The Gauteng High Court, Johannesburg, sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court has heard testimony of the investigating officer, Bongani Mbonambi, who testified in a trial-within-a-trial hearing of Sifiso Mkhwanazi, who has argued that his confession was obtained through undue influence.
Mkhwanazi, 21, is accused of killing several sex workers between April and October 2022. He faces six counts of rape and murder, but has accused his father and the investigating officer of forcing a confession out of him.
On Wednesday, Mbonambi testified that during the day of the alleged confession, he had only facilitated the meeting between Mkhwanazi and his father, Mark Khumalo, at the Johannesburg Central police station.
After requesting that the suspect be taken to the confession room, he left the two to meet without him being present on the third floor, he said. He went downstairs where he was busy with some of his duties.
Mbonambi was testifying in a trial-within-a-trial to determine the admissibility of the confession allegedly made by Mkhwanazi to his father, shortly after his arrest which coincided with the arranged identity parade.
“After the parade, I took the father to the third floor and asked the cops to release the son and tell him his father wanted to see the him.
“After taking them to the third floor, I left them in the room and went downstairs. There was a cop guarding them 15 metres away,“ the investigating officer said.
Mbonambi echoed the statements made by Mkhwanazi’s father, Khumalo, who on Tuesday denied having threatened, intimidated or forced a confession out of his son on the day of their meeting. He said he also did not record their conversation or the alleged confession.
“I deny the assertion that I threatened or intimidated the accused. I never assaulted or threatened him to say something to his father.
“There were also no promises that were made to him that if he co-operates he would benefit or his sentence will be reduced.
“On that day, the accused did not say he was assaulted during the parade and he looked normal,“ the officer said.
The officer indicated that while he was still busy downstairs, the father of the accused returned after more than 20 minutes of their meeting. He indicated that he had spoken to his son and needed time to process what he had been told by the accused.
According to the investigating officer, he advised that the son needed to speak to a lawyer following the confession.
“I advised the father that his son must speak to a lawyer as I was not interested in what the accused had said to his father.
“However, I did take the statement from the father of what his son told him but not on the same day,” he said.
However, Mkhwanazi has stood by his earlier statement that he was coerced and felt compelled to confess to his father. He said his father, as his only living parent and legal guardian, threatened that he would distance himself from him if he did not tell the truth.
He argued that given his father’s position, he felt compelled to confess as he feared losing his support.
“My father said he met up with the police and they spoke. I don’t have a choice. I have to tell the truth.
“I felt compelled to do this after he said he and the family will distance themselves from me if I do not confess even though he did not intimidate me directly.
“I was confused as I had just been arrested and when he said he will no longer take care of me, I felt compelled to confess,” he said.
The trial continues.