The year in review 2023: Take a look at South Africa’s biggest court cases

The five suspects in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court .Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

The five suspects in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial in the North Gauteng High Court .Picture: Oupa Mokoena / Independent Newspapers

Published Dec 22, 2023


As the year draws to an end, we look back at some of the major court stories of 2023 which dominated headlines and even transcended through international news.

Below is the list of all the biggest court stories.

Senzo Meyiwa

October 26, 2023, marked exactly nine years since football star Senzo Meyiwa was gunned down in an alleged contract killing in Vosloorus.

Meyiwa was visiting his girlfriend and mother of his child, singer Kelly Khumalo, when he met his demise in 2014.

Five men have been accused of his murder and are standing trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

The case first went to trial in June 2022 and went on for almost a year until the embattled Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela was removed from the case.

His removal comes after the Judicial Service Commission in April recommended that he be suspended due to his failure to deliver reserved judgments in a reasonable time.

In June 2023, Maumela was replaced by retired Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng who came with a no-nonsense approach.

Mokgoatlheng had to start the proceedings from scratch and recall all the witnesses who had testified before.

The trial has been marred by delays and court room shenanigans which at times saw Mokgoatlheng losing his patience.

The trial has been postponed to January 22, 2024.

Thabo Bester and Dr Nandipha Magudumana

The story of convicted rapist Thabo Bester and his partner Dr Nandipha Magudumana was wilder than fiction, the story went viral and was even reported on the biggest news channels like BBC and CNN.

The couple pulled a daring escape which allowed Bester to live a life of luxury and opulence for at least over a year until his luck ran out after pictures of him out shopping in the company of the aesthetic doctor started circulating on social media.

Bester, a convicted killer and rapist escaped from the Mangaung Correctional Centre and faked his death in May 2022.

Magudumana has been accused of playing a pivotal role in helping Bester escape.

A body belonging to Katlego Bereng was burned and used a decoy to cover up for Bester. His charred remains were identified through DNA after a year.

Its still unclear how Bereng died or how he was smuggled into prison.

Police have established that the charred remains in Thabo Bester’s prison cell belonged to father of two, Katlego Bereng. Picture: Se-Anne Rall/Oupa Mokoena/Facebook

Magudumana and Bester were caught in April 2023 in Arusha, Tanzania after being on the run for almost two weeks.

Initially, 12 suspects were on the charge sheet, including Bester, Magudumana, and her father, Zolile Cornelius Sekeleni who was released on R10,000 bail.

Meanwhile, the State withdrew charges against other three accused.

The rest of the accused are still behind bars.

Molemo Maarohanye-'Jub Jub'

Trouble seems to never stop following television presenter and musician Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye.

The rapper is back in court on allegations of assault, attempted murder and rape in a case involving four complainants that spans 2006 to 2010.

Media personality Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye is facing at least 13 charges including rape, attempted murder and assault. File Picture: IOL

In July, the rapper handed himself over to the South African Police Service (SAPS) following a warrant that was issued for his arrest on three counts of rape, two of attempted murder and one of assault.

He was later released on bail of R10,000. Under the bail conditions, the musician had been ordered to hand over his passport to the investigating officer and he is not allowed to have any contact with the victims.

Xolani Khumalo

Popular drug buster and TV broadcaster Xolani Khumalo, well known for raiding drug-infested areas in his much-loved television show, Sizokuthola, found himself and his crew in the centre of a discourse after an interrogation led to a man’s death.

The television channel, Moja Love, issued a statement that identified the deceased as Robert “Kicks” Varrie.

Following Varrie’s death, the channel decided to cut ties with Khumalo after he was charged with murder.

Khumalo handed himself to the police and appeared at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court where was released on R20,000 bail.

Xolani Khumalo during the #DrugFreeSouthAfrica march to the Union Buildings to deliver a memorandum of demands asking for a stronger stance on drug-related crimes. File Picture: Jacques Naude / Independent Newspapers

During his last appearance, the State added two more charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances and malicious damage to property.

The matter has been postponed to February 22, 2024, for further investigation.

Kirsten Kruyts

One of heart- wrenching cases that had many dumbfounded, was the callous murder of Kirsten Kluyts.

Kluyts, 34, a teacher at Delta Park High, was found murdered at the George Lea Recreational Park in Parkmore, Sandton, on October 29.

She had participated in an athletic event on the day of her murder, but failed to finish the walk.

She was 14-weeks pregnant and expecting a baby boy when she was viciously murdered.

Kirsten Kluyts, 34, a teacher at Delta Park High, was found murdered at the George Lea Recreational Park in Parkmore, Sandton, on October 29. Picture: Facebook

A time keeper at the event took a picture of her walking at 8.05am and after that she went missing because at 8.15am, her cellphone was discovered in the bushes not far from the event.

The State identified an eight-minute window in which it believes Kluyts was attacked and killed.

A post mortem revealed that her death was caused by blunt force head trauma, strangulation, smothering and pressure to the neck.

Although she was found naked, medical report showed that she was not raped.

Twenty-one-year-old Varsity College student, Bafana Mahungela was arrested on November 26 for Kluyts’s murder.

He has denied any involvement.

The State presented pictures of him moving approximately 100 metres behind Kluyts at the event.

He was also captured arriving at the event at 7.35am wearing a black T-shirt and pants, but when leaving the area, he was in a blue T-shirt and holding something black in his left hand.

The blue T-shirt was the same one worn by Kluyts.

Mahungela admitted to undressing her and leaving her naked. He claimed he only did this to eliminate any fingerprints left because he touched her in an attempt to help her.

He later threw her clothes in a drain.

He has been charged with premeditated murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and rape.

Twenty one-year-old Bafana Mahungela who has been accused of killing Kluyts, testified during his bail hearing in the Alexandra Magistrate's Court. Picture: Screenshot/NewzroomAfrika

However, a medical report showed that Kluyts had no injuries on the external genitalia area, anus, and the vaginal canal.

It is still unclear why the State added the rape charge when initially he was only charged with murder.

The matter has been postponed to December 29.