‘Don’t do that to me’: Sparks fly in Senzo Meyiwa trial as judge takes on counsel

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela. Picture: Screengrab/Newzroom Afrika

Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela. Picture: Screengrab/Newzroom Afrika

Published Nov 15, 2022


Pretoria – Minutes after resuming on Tuesday morning, the trial of five men arrested in connection with the murder of Bafana Bafana star Senzo Meyiwa was adjourned as tempers flared in court.

Advocate TT Thobane, who represents four of the five men accused of killing Meyiwa, was cross-examining Meyiwa’s close friend Tumelo Madlala in the North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria.

Thobane has previously shown exasperation with Madlala’s “evasiveness” when it comes to giving time estimates for certain events. On Tuesday, Thobane pressed Madlala to jog his memory, asking him if he remembered the time he was picked up to come to court as a witness.

The prosecution team, led by advocate George Baloyi, objected, stating that the line of questioning might compromise Madlala’s security.

Advocate TT Thobane representing four of the five men accused of killing Senzo Meyiwa. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Presiding Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela agreed with the State, instructing Thobane to move on, a move which did not sit well with the defence advocate.

Maumela said: “It (the question) can send an idea about the time he is picked …”

Thobane interjected: “If the court can allow me to finish …”

The judge responded: “I am not allowing you to. That question, he is not going to answer. There is no need to finish, go to another question.

Unrelenting, Thobane said the judge was now “dictating” to him, and that was not procedural.

The judge responded: “Yes. I am saying, go to another question.”

Thobane said he would not go to another question.

The judge said: “If you are not going to another question, sit down. You are not going to ask that.”

Thobane hit back: “Your lordship, you are not going to tell me to sit down. Who said I do not have another question? Your lordship … your lordship.”

Seemingly upset, the judge responded: “Don’t do that to me. What are you doing to me? Why must you repeat it? What conduct is that?

The judge insisted that Thobane move on to another question, and the lawyer requested a tea break.

The trial has previously been characterised by heated exchanges between the former counsel for the four murder accused, Malesela Teffo, who has since been disbarred for unrelated charges.

Five men, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Mthobisi Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa and Sifokuhle Ntuli, are facing charges of murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, possession of an unlicensed firearm as well as possession of ammunition.

All of the five accused have pleaded not guilty.

Meyiwa was killed on October 26, 2014, while in the company of his girlfriend and the mother of his child, Kelly Khumalo, in Vosloorus.

In the house, that day were Meyiwa, Kelly and her younger sister, Zandile, their mother Ntombi Khumalo (MaKhumalo), Longwe Twala, Meyiwa’s friends Mthokozisi Thwala and Tumelo Madlala, Kelly’s then 4-year-old son, Christian, and Thingo, her daughter with Meyiwa.