‘Key witness’ says he lied

2009-02-11 00:00

A key state witness has failed to give evidence in the trial of three men at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in connection with the murder of the former secretary of the African National Congress at Nthembisweni near Greytown, Mosquito Public Themba Mzila, who was shot dead on March 22, 2006.

The witness, Siyabonga Ntombela, told the court instead that he had fabricated his statements to police and that he knew nothing about the matter.

Ntombela was alleged by the prosecution to be an accomplice to the murder and was offered indemnity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony.

The case — in which Sabelo Zondi (22) and brothers Sabelo (19) and Thokozani Ntuli (28) have pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder as well as a charge of robbery with aggravating circumstances in connection with the death of Mzila — is meanwhile proceeding before Judge Piet Koen and assessors.

The state alleges in its indictment that a certain Inkatha Freedom Party councillor instigated Mzila’s murder because he envied him and felt insecure about the political support Mzila enjoyed.

The councillor also allegedly envied Mzila his “large clientele and thriving business”. Both men allegedly owned shops in the area.

On the night of March 22, 2006, a group of armed assailants arrived at Mzila’s shop, Zenzele Store, and gained entry on the pretext of wanting to buy liquor and other goods. They opened fire on Mzila, who died at the scene.

After the murder the attackers ransacked the store and the living area where Mzila stayed and stole numerous items, including Mzila’s cellphone, R2 800 cash, liquor, compact discs and a CD player as well as various pairs of shoes.

The Witness has confirmed that the IFP councillor whose name appears in the indictment has not been charged in connection with the matter at this stage because there is insufficient evidence.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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