Pretoria - The prosecution yesterday grilled a social worker who had presented a pre-sentencing report to the court regarding the hardships faced by the four men convicted of the murder of billionaire Wandile Bozwana.
Prosecutor Jennifer Cronje asked whether the social worker did not regard them as a danger to society.
Cronje this week asked the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria to reject the report as being one-sided. He said while the report had set out the circumstances of the accused, it mentioned nothing about the hardships of the families of the victims.
The social worker, whom the court asked the media not to identify as per her request, said she did not have the contact details of the Bozwana family, thus she did not contact them. She said, in any event, the State had indicated that it would present a victim-impact report to the court, dealing with the circumstances of the Bozwana family.
The social worker outlined the personal circumstances of accused Sipho Patrick Hudla, Robert Mutapa, Mamelodi businessman Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo this week.
She also outlined the hardships they have endured for the past seven years during the marathon trial.
According to her, the accused men’s family members described all of them as good people who were not capable of murder.
The social worker also outlined how solitary confinement in C-Max prison had affected the accused, mentally and physically. According to her, all of them said being “boxed-up” left them with nothing to live for. When grilled about this, she said they were only incarcerated in C-Max since their convictions in June last year.
Cronje and Judge Papi Mosopa pointed out that where and how the accused were incarcerated had nothing to do with the court. This was in the hands of the correctional services department.
Cronje also pointed out that Mathebela was not placed in solitary confinement for the time he had spent in jail awaiting trial. The social worker said he had launched a successful application a while ago to be removed from solitary confinement.
In questioning the social worker about her report, Cronje said: “Being kept in custody after committing murder in broad daylight on a public road, the loss of freedom is a consequence of their own conduct.”
Cronje also questioned the social worker about whether she did not regard the accused as dangerous men, who belonged behind bars.
The social worker said she could not comment on this, as she could not “diagnose” them.
But the state said as a social worker, with 38 years of experience in dealing with accused persons, she should surely be able to detect if someone was dangerous.
Grilled on what she thought a suitable sentence would be, the social worker also would not commit, other than to say that they should face some jail time.
She stated in her report that the families of all four men pleaded with the court for mercy.
According to her, all of them said they would take care of the accused if they were not sent to prison.
The court was told this week that the accused especially endured hardship in prison while awaiting trial, as this category of prisoners does not have any privileges or programmes in place for them.
But Cronje pointed out that Mathibela last year received the services of a psychologist when he needed it.
The cross-examination of the social worker will proceed today.
The defence indicated that it would ask the court to call a witness to outline the conditions in prison and especially in C-Max.
The prosecution is also expected to present victim impact reports from the Bozwana family, as well as from Mpho Baloyi, Bozwana’s business partner.
She recovered from her injuries after she was shot on the N1-off ramp at Garsfontein Road. Baloyi was driving the car in 2015 when gunmen opened fire at them.
While injured, she drove with the severely injured Bozwana next to her in the passenger seat, to a nearby business to get help.