Accused in DA murder trial wants charges dropped due to 'no evidence'
Kimberley - In a surprise application, double murder and kidnapping accused Zonizelo Richard Magawu on Monday applied for all charges against him to be withdrawn as he believes that the State has no evidence whatsoever against him.
Magawu and four other men - Richard Hasane, Tshame Frank Baxane, Thompson Mncedisi Mphondomisa and Matthews Legodu - are accused of the murders of DA councillor Johannes Baatjies and a family friend, Jeffrey Nouse. They are also facing charges of kidnapping, the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Baatjies and Nouse were shot execution style after they were lured to a business proposal along the side of the road between Danielskuil and Postmasburg, a day before Baatjies was to be sworn in as a councillor at Kgatelopele Municipality, on August 17, 2016.
Baatjies was kidnapped, forced into the boot of a car and shot multiple times in the head and body when he tried to escape from the moving vehicle.
Nouse was shot in the face with a 9mm pistol on the same day and was found seriously injured inside a Ford Ranger along the side of the road. He was treated at Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital in Kimberley and died on August 23, 2016.
Magawu was the only accused to make an application for discharge in the Northern Cape High Court on Monday, as the State wrapped up its case.
The legal representative for Magawu, Albert Buthelezi, said that there was no basis for the claims against his client, who had instructed that he should be cleared of any wrongdoing.
“The State did not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The allegations levelled against my client are not credible or scientific and were manufactured by the State. My client will be subjected to an unfair trial,” said Buthelezi.
The senior State prosecutor, advocate Hannes Cloete, pointed out that the State had “a body of compelling evidence” against Magawu.
“We were not given notice of this application and are opposing the matter. The State relied on accomplished and credible witnesses. The evidence is more than enough for any reasonable court to convict the accused,” said Cloete.
He explained that there was compelling evidence that a cellphone and SIM card belonging to Magawu was used to lure the deceased to Postmasburg to attend the proposed business deal.
“There is compelling evidence that the accused (Magawu) arranged for the killers and that he was instrumental in providing a cellphone used by the Section 204 witness. There is further compelling evidence that Magawu was in contact with the other accused at the time of the incident. There are multiple accused and there is strong evidence that will further implicate Magawu that his SIM card was used by Baxane in the handset used to contact the Section 204 witness on August 17, 2016. Baxane will have to explain that strong evidence.”
Cloete added that Mphondomisa and Legodu would also have to testify in court in regards who contacted them on August 17, as the State possessed evidence that it was in fact Magawu.
Northern Cape High Court Judge President Pule Tlaletsi denied Magawu’s application.
“Based on the merits of evidence presented, any reasonable court could convict the accused. The evidence placed before the court requires the accused to give some explanation,” said Tlaletsi.
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