Pretoria - Another day, another delay in the murder trial of Mamelodi businessman Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela and his three co-accused.
Despite their witness not pitching at court, the lawyer representing two of the accused – as well as Shepherd Bushiri – opted to drop this trial to represent the fugitive preacher in Malawi this week.
These circumstances did not sit well with Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Papi Mosopa, who issued a warrant of arrest for the social worker who had to go to court yesterday to testify in mitigation of sentence regarding the four accused.
He ordered that the warrant be held over to when the court again convened on July 19 for the matter.
The social worker has compiled pre-sentencing reports on all four accused with the aim of outlining their personal circumstances for the court before sentencing.
When the matter was called yesterday, there was no sign of the social worker and the case was stood down to establish her whereabouts. It then emerged that she had the flu and subsequently no voice.
Prosecutor Jeniffer Cronje asked the court to issue a warrant for her arrest and that it be held over until the next court date so that she could explain her absence. The warrant was issued as the social worker was – by an order of court issued earlier – compelled to be at court yesterday.
Judge Mosopa was also not happy with the fact that the lawyer for two of the accused – Anneline van den Heever – gave notice via a letter that she was withdrawing from the case. She is also Bushiri’s lawyer and she is representing him in his extradition application, due to start today in Malawi.
The judge said no lawyer can simply withdraw from a matter in this manner, and he ordered she be present on July 19 in court to explain herself.
In postponing the case, the judge said that since the trial started in 2017 it had experienced problems, leading to numerous delays. He pointed out that he was always present, even when he had death in his family, but problems just seemed to plague this case.
The judge made it clear that come next year, he did not want the case on the roll again as by then it had to be long disposed of.
He noted that accused Sipho Patrick Hudla, Robert Mutapa and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo had been in custody since 2015 – shortly after billionaire Wandile Bozwana was gunned down on the N1 Garsfontein off-ramp.
The four were convicted of murder and attempted murder in June last year, and sentencing has since then not been finalised.
Bozwana’s widow, Tsholofelo Bozwana, who is also due to present a pre-sentencing report to the court, yesterday told the Pretoria News that she was fed up with all the delays; they were taking their toll on her.
She said every time she had to go to court, she had to go and see her doctor beforehand as she was totally stressed out. “Do these people understand the toll this has taken on me and my children?” she said after the matter was once again postponed.
Bozwana said her husband was taken away from her, and the family had subsequently had to downscale by 50%. She said she could not take much more of this, and she was now leaving the matter in God’s hands. “I’ve now had enough. He (God) will fight our battle further for us.”