Magistrate Cronje to face cross examination over Bongani Ntanzi’s confession - Senzo Meyiwa Trial

Accused two in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Bongani Ntanzi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Accused two in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, Bongani Ntanzi. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 18, 2023


A magistrate who administered the confession of accused number two, Bongani Ntanzi, in connection with Senzo Meyiwa’s murder is set to be cross-examined by the defence on Wednesday.

Magistrate Vivienne Cronje told the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday that she had administered Ntanzi’s confession on June 24, 2020.

Ntanzi, the court heard, had been arrested on June 16, 2020.

There is currently a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of confession statements made by Ntanzi and accused one, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya.

At this stage, the contents of the confession statements have yet to be disclosed.

The five accused — Sibiya, Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonke Maphisa, and Fisokuhle Nkani Ntuli, are on trial for the murder of the soccer star. The police announced they had been arrested on October 26, 2020.

According to Cronje, she administered the confession in the presence of Ntanzi, an interpreter and Ntanzi’s lawyer, Dominic Mjiyako, who appears to be a Melville-based private attorney.

Cronje testified that she had recorded the confession and the three hour recording was made available to all the legal representatives in the murder trial for them to listen to overnight.

She explained that her recording was for her own purposes, and was not necessarily a legal requirement for the confession.

Cronje had observed that Ntanzi had been calm and relaxed during the confession, and that he made direct eye contact with both her and the interpreter when he spoke.

She said it was explained to Ntanzi, who said he understood that he was under no obligation to make the confession and that he had the right to remain silent.

Cronje noted no signs that Ntanzi had been assaulted, and this was also confirmed by the accused, who said the two scars he had were old, one from his mining work and another old scar inflicted by his grandmother who had mistakenly bruised him when she tried to hit a chicken.

She also explained earlier that she had been asked to administer the confession as other senior magistrates at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court had been involved in other applications related to the Meyiwa case, such as the Section 205 applications for cellphone records and others had other related involvement.

Cronje’s key testimony

– According to Cronje, Ntanzi signed and initialled the confession after it was explained to him that he had the right to remain silent. He was told the statement could be used against him in court and he replied he understood, and chose to proceed with making the statement.

– Cronje recorded Ntanzi’s confession for her own records, but did not inform anyone present that she was recording, she told the court.

– Ntanzi was brought to the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court for his confession by Sergeant Vusumuzi Mogane, who was accompanied by about eight armed Ekurhuleni Metro Police officers. Appointment certificates for Mogane and at least two metro police officers who stood outside the door were taken and submitted with the confession.

– According to Cronje, Ntanzi told her he had not washed in eight days since his arrest on June 16, 2020. The confession was made on June 24, 2020.

– Cronje observed that Ntanzi was calm and relaxed during his confession, and that he made direct eye contact with her and the interpreter.

– Ntanzi requested to bath, speak with his family to get fresh clothes and speak with his child, according to Cronje. She noted he appeared to be in his sober senses.

– Cronje said Ntanzi informed her that he had not been assaulted, had not been influenced nor asked to make the confession statement. She also observed the handcuffs were loosened and not tight, and that there was no scarring on his hands.

– Cronje also said Ntanzi’s rights were explained to him and interpreted to him in isiZulu before the confession was initialled and signed.

Ntanzi’s defence, led by advocate Thulani Mngomezulu, is expected to argue that Ntanzi signed the confession statement under duress and that he did not sign the statement before Cronje.

Ntanzi’s lawyers are expected to argue that the confession statement was not made freely and voluntarily.

The trial resumes at 10am on Wednesday.