The new presiding officer in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial, retired judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, has sounded a stern warning saying he would not tolerate any unnecessary delays after the trial was forced to take an early adjournment on Wednesday afternoon after the State’s first witness Zandile Khumalo complained of chest pains.
Zandile complained of chest pains after State advocate George Baloyi had concluded his examination of the witness. She was set to begin her cross-examination when she complained of chest pains and raised that there was an issue pertaining to her accommodation.
The matter, which had to be started afresh this week after Judge Tshifiwa Maumela fell ill, is being heard at the Gauteng North High Court in Pretoria.
“After consulting with the defence, we have agreed with the defence that the matter should be postponed, subject to the approval of the court,’’ said Baloyi addressing the judge.
Mokgoatlheng was not impressed with the early adjournment.
“Why do you want to adjourn?” he probed.
“Because of the problems we are having and the witness is also not feeling well,” said Baloyi.
“What’s wrong with her,” asked Mokgoatlheng.
“She told that because of these problems being encountered with accommodation, she’s not psychologically ready to proceed today,” replied Baloyi.
Looking visibly irritated, Mokgoatlheng told Baloyi that he wont tolerate unnecessary delays.
“See, I’m old school, I can’t tolerate this type of behaviour,” he said directing his fingers at Zandile.
“This person comes to court, gives evidence and when she must be cross-examined, a problem arises which has got nothing to do with the running of the court.... And then I’m told we must adjourn because the witness is not feeling well,” he said looking at Zandile.
“Is that the reason or there are problems with the accommodation not being paid,” he asked.
Mokgoatlheng then directed his attention to Zandile and asked her what was the problem.
“What’s wrong with you?” he chimed.
“I have a pain in my chest,” she replied.
Before agreeing to an adjournment, Mokgoatlheng asked whether the issues with accommodation had been resolved.
Baloyi assured the no nonsense judge that it will be sorted.
Mokgoatlheng is a former soccer player who starred for both Orlando Pirates and was one of the founding members of the Kaizer Chiefs. The Alexandra-born judge was appointed as a judge in 2007, before he retired.
He studied at the University of Fort Hare and was first admitted as an attorney in 1976, while he was still a soccer player for Kaizer Chiefs.
Mokgoatlheng was the judge who sentenced ex-spy boss Richard Mdluli to five years in jail for kidnapping, assault and assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm charges.
Meyiwa was killed on October 26, 2014, in Vosloorus while visiting his girlfriend and mother of his child, Kelly Khumalo.
In the house that day were Meyiwa, Kelly Khumalo and her younger sister, Zandile, their mother Ntombi Khumalo, Longwe Twala, Meyiwa’s friends Mthokozisi Thwala and Madlala, Kelly’s then 4-year-old son, Christian, and Thingo, her daughter with Meyiwa.
Five men accused of killing Meyiwa pleading not guilty.
The 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.
They are all in custody after they were previously denied bail, however, Mokgoatlheng said that this was now a new trial and the accused could still apply for bail if they wish to do so.
Zandile is expected to be cross-examined on Thursday.