Durban — The family of a man who was shot and killed allegedly by a Pinetown police officer for leaning against his car has spoken out about two witnesses who have caused a delay in the continuation of the trial by refusing to testify.
The two were warned in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court this week of the consequences they could face by refusing to testify, their actions have seen the trial which had already begun being adjourned to March.
The two witnesses following the murder of Qaphela Mdima made statements to police on what they had witnessed transpire outside Casa Blanca Lifestyle in Molweni, Hillcrest in November 2022.
One of the witnesses, who had left the court before the matter was called on Tuesday after refusing to go through his statement with the State ahead of testifying, spent the night in jail following a warrant of arrest that the court issued.
The witness was released on warning on Wednesday to come and testify in March in the trial against Sergeant Sibonelo Christopher Shabangu.
The officer is alleged to have shot Mdima multiple times with his service pistol.
The State in the matter alleges that after Shabangu fired a single shot toward his murder victim and continued to fire multiple times at the man, who kept asking why the officer was shooting at him.
Shabangu was granted R5 000 bail in December 2022.
Following the shooting the officer fled the area as angry community members stoned his vehicle, he went to hand himself over at the Hillcrest police station.
Spent cartridges were seized at the scene and were sent to be compared with the officer’s gun, statements from witnesses implicating him were also submitted as part of the State’s evidence.
Speaking to the Daily News on Thursday, Mdima’s brother Qiniso said that he felt it was important that the two witnesses disclose what had caused them to refuse to testify.
“I fail to understand what has caused the two witnesses who made statements to police afraid to stand in the box and give testimony on their statements. This is frustrating because they don’t want to specify why they are doing this. Is it because they have been given something to keep their mouths shut or they have been intimidated? They must tell the court the reasons, because if either one of these suspicions is true, then the accused needs to have his bail revoked and be kept behind bars for the duration of the trial,” he said.
Qiniso explained that the witness who was released from custody, Mandla Dlamini, had been the one who fetched his brother from inside Casa Blanca where he had been with him, taking him outside.
Further to this, the second witness Ayanda Ngcobo was with his brother outside when the altercation that led to the shooting unfolded.
Qiniso explained that the one witness who has already testified, Njabulo Ngcobo, has told the court what transpired when his brother was shot.
Shabangu has pleaded not guilty stating that he had thought that Mdima was reaching for a gun when he moved his hand to his waist.
Qiniso reacting to this said he believed it was impossible that his brother had a gun on him because firearms were not allowed inside Casa Blanca.
“They search you when you enter, even when you exit you have to leave the drink you have in your hand with security if you are returning - which is what my brother did. He did not even have his car keys on him,” he said.
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