Mandla Mandela trial postponed after witness ‘disappears’

2014-05-27 17:21

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In a bizarre twist, Mandla Mandela’s trial had to be postponed because the state’s fourth witness mysteriously disappeared just hours before he could testify.

This was revealed by senior state prosecutor Jongikhaya Bhusakhwe, who told Magistrate Noluthando Conjwa that the witness had “simply vanished”.

“The witness was here this morning. He was due to testify and was with the investigating officer going through his statement. He has now disappeared and we can’t even reach him on his phone,” Bhusakhwe told the court.

He asked for the court to adjourn the matter so that the witness can be tracked down. He is believed to be one of the eyewitnesses of the incident on October 5, when Mandela allegedly beat and pointed a firearm at complainant Mlamli Ngudle.

The identity of this fourth witness or his whereabouts is still a mystery at this stage.

The defence’s advocate Collin Garvey argued against the postponement, saying it would prejudice Mandela financially.

Garvey said there had been no fourth witness in particulars of the case provided by the state to the defence. Postponing the case would work against the interest of justice, he said.

Bhusakhwe rebuked him, pointing out the name of the mysterious witness from the defence’s own file.

An irritated Bhusakhwe reminded the defence that they had never opposed Mandela’s numerous postponements in the past when he changed attorneys or when he went to bury his grandfather, former president Nelson Mandela.

“The accused postponed this case many times as he changed attorneys. We never had a problem with that. He had a number of attorneys who came to this court asking for postponements. Advocate Kenny Oldwadge was also his legal representative at one stage.

“Even when we lost our father, Tata Madiba, last year, the accused asked for a postponement. We never had a problem with that. It can’t be that when the state wants a postponement it becomes a problem,” Bhusakhwe said.

Conjwa said after listening to both parties and considering their arguments, “it is in the interest of justice that I grant the state an opportunity and give them the postponement as sought”.

The magistrate said she was aware that the postponement would cause financial burden on Mandela, but that the interest of justice was what needed to be looked at.

“I therefore adjourn the case to October 15, 16 and 17 for the trial to continue,” Conjwa said.

Earlier in the day, third witness Nomzamo Jack briefly testified that he saw Mandela assaulting Ngudle on the day in question.

Jack said she did not know how the altercation started, only that she saw Mandela kicking Ngudle and beating him.

“He [Mandela] was kicking him on the face while he [Ngudle] lay on the floor,” Jack told the court.

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