Manilall murder accused changes his tune and holds up trial

2010-07-23 00:00

MBONISENI Victor Mbatha, charged with the 2006 murder of Howick West mother Monika Manilall, caused judgment in the case to be delayed when he successfully applied to the court yesterday to be allowed to re-open his case and give evidence in his defence.

He is charged with the murder along with the victim’s former husband, Sanesh Manilall, and his new wife, Mumtaz Osman.

According to alleged accomplices in the “hit” on Monika Manilall, Mbatha helped to orchestrate the murder, transported the killers to and from the crime scene and later paid over R10 000 to the killers.

He elected not to testify. Yesterday he changed his mind and asked to be allowed to have his say.

KwaZulu-Natal Judge President Herbert Msimang said he was ready to deliver his judgment in the case and expressed his “extreme displeasure”, saying it seems Mbatha is “playing games with the court”.

He did, however, grant him leave to give evidence.

After Mbatha completed his evidence, the case was postponed to September 1 for cross-examination.

Defence advocates Shane Matthews and Christo van Schalkwyk SC indicated that they may consider it necessary also to recall Osman and Manilall to the witness stand.

State advocate Attie Truter said at least another two or three days will now be needed to complete the case.

In his evidence, Mbatha denied he participated in any way in Monika Manilall’s murder.

He confirmed the version he gave the court at the beginning of the trial in 2008, namely that he was asked by Sanesh Manilall during the early part of 2006 to pick up three “workers” at KwaPatha location and to take them to Manilall’s home in Howick West to work in the garden.

He said he fetched Mumtaz Osman from her flat in College Road on Manilall’s instructions, and then went to KwaPatha where he picked up three workers, none of whom he knew.

Mbatha said Osman gave him directions to Manilall’s residence in Howick West. He dropped the workers at the gate and then took Osman to Manilall’s workshop.

Mbatha said that later Manilall telephoned him to pick up Osman again and to go on to fetch the workers as they had “finished their work”.

He did as ordered, but only two of the men got a lift with him, telling him the third had caught a taxi, he said.

Mbatha denied evidence by Osman that she was in Pinetown on the day of the murder and that he had borrowed her cellphone the previous day.

He also disputed Osman’s evidence that he acted for her as a lawyer.

The state alleges that Monika Manilall was killed as a result of the extramarital affair between her husband and Osman: “I was only a union representative,” he said.

In evidence, the couple, who have since married, admitted they had a love affair, but denied it caused them to murder the victim.

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