Accused say they have alibis

2008-03-13 00:00

The two men currently on trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court for the murder and attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances of renowned historian David Rattray on January 26 last year testified yesterday that they have alibis for the day of the murder.

One accused, Simphiwe Ndlovu (25), claimed to have been "courting" a woman, and the other, Sibonele Xolani Mpanza (28), claimed he was asleep at home at the time.

Under cross-examination by state advocate Dorian Paver, Ndlovu and Mpanza both alleged that the two convicted co-conspirators — Zwelihle Mtshali and Mfanafuthi "Banozi" Ndlovu, both serving 25-year jail terms after pleading guilty to Rattray’s murder last year — gave false evidence implicating them in the crimes.

Simphiwe Ndlovu — who said he is not a blood relative of Banozi Ndlovu, but knows him well and regards him as a brother — said he does not know why he or Mtshali decided to lie about his involvement.

But he testified that both the men were once involved in an incident at a tavern where they threatened him at knifepoint and robbed him of R600.

"I don’t know Mtshali … I only saw him for the second time in my life here in court," he said.

Mpanza told Judge Kate Pillay that he and Mtshali were once involved in a "serious quarrel" and suggested that Mtshali might still bear him a grudge. However, he said he does not know Banozi Ndlovu at all and saw him for the first time in court.

Paver asked him why he believed Ndlovu would allege that Mpanza was the mastermind behind the robbery at Rattray’s Fugitives’ Drift Lodge if he was innocent. Mpanza replied that he thought it may have been because Ndlovu was "following" the version given earlier by Fethe Sibusiso Nkwanyana.

Judge Pillay yesterday ruled that a pointing-out at the crime scene by Mpanza is admissible as evidence in the case, but did not give reasons. She is expected to do so when she passes judgment.

Mpanza maintained that he was assaulted and "forced" by police to do the pointing-out.

Under cross-examination by Paver yesterday, Mpanza said he is not the author of explanations allegedly given by him during the course of the pointing-out by him and said the statements attributed to him were made up by the police.

The court will hear legal arguments presented by defence lawyers, Surendra Singh and Dean Govender, as well as Paver today.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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