Durban — A witness in the trial against a police officer alleged to have shot dead a man for apparently leaning against his car was released on warning after being jailed for failing to appear to testify in court.
Mandla Dlamini was released from custody on Wednesday on warning that he return in March to testify in the trial against Pinetown Sergeant Sibonelo Christopher Shabangu.
Dlamini appeared in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday following his arrest on Tuesday after a warrant of arrest was issued for him. He had been at the court but had left before the matter was called.
Shabangu is charged with the murder of Qaphela Mdima, whom he allegedly shot multiple times with his service pistol outside Casa Blanca Lifestyle in Molweni, Hillcrest, in November 2022.
The State alleges that after Shabangu fired a single shot toward the victim, he 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 handed himself over at the Hillcrest police station.
Spent cartridges were seized at the scene and sent to be compared with the officer’s gun. Statements from witnesses implicating him were submitted as part of the State’s evidence.
In court on Tuesday, when the trial was meant to continue with the testimony of two witnesses, State prosecutor Rowen Souls said he had difficulty with the two witnesses, Dlamini and Ayanda Ngcobo.
He said they refused to go through their statements with him ahead of their testifying in the trial.
“I have warned them of the consequences of their actions.
“I would like to give them time to think about what I have told them today in the hope that they have a change of heart. I apply for the trial to be adjourned for such. Mandla Dlamini was present in court. I spoke to him but he is no longer here. The State applies that a warrant of arrest be issued.”
Souls said Dlamini was subpoenaed in January to testify.
“This witness before the court (Ngcobo) also does not want to testify. I have explained the consequences of his actions to him. For some reason he cites the same reasons for not wanting to testify as the other witness (Dlamini),” said Souls.
On Wednesday, after having been arrested on Tuesday, Dlamini appeared before magistrate MA Khumalo.
“I am supposed to hold a warning inquiry in terms of your attendance. Do you want Legal Aid? Will you represent yourself or will you get an attorney? Failure to remain in attendance is a criminal offence that attracts a fine or time in custody.
“Unfortunately, there is no time today to hold the inquiry because of load shedding. What I want to understand from you is whether you will attend court if you are warned to do so?” asked Khumalo.
Dlamini undertook to attend the hearing should he be released on warning and Souls did not object to his release.
Shabangu has pleaded not guilty.
The State has led one witness so far.
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.