Twist in wife mu­rder trial

2009-12-08 00:00

THE trial of a married couple of Howick, Sanesh Manilall and Mumtaz Osman, charged with murdering Manilall’s late wife, Monika, resumed in the high court yesterday amid claims by the alleged gunman that he was induced to give false evidence.

Judge Herbert Msimang has ordered that a trial within a trial be held to determine whether state witness Siyabonga Mdlalose is being truthful in his claims that state advocate Dalene Barnard and investigating officer, Inspector Swami Pillay, of the Organised Crime Unit, promised to reduce the life sentence, which he is currently serving for the murder, to 20 years’ imprisonment in exchange for his testimony.

Mdlalose yesterday insisted, when he took the witness stand, that he told Barnard and Pillay that he “knows nothing” about the crime and that he was repeating a version given to him by police when he testified about his involvement and that of the accused in the murder.

Sanesh Manilall, Osman and Mboniseni Victor Mbatha have pleaded not guilty to charges that they formed common purpose to murder Monika Manilall, who was shot dead in her Howick home in 2006.

When the trial began in May last year, Mdlalose was viewed as a key witness in the case.

He gave detailed evidence over two days during which he said that he was among four men hired to kill Monika Manilall for R10 000, and said he was the gunman who fired the fatal shots at her. He implicated all three accused in the murder plot.

However, under cross-examination by defence advocate Shane Matthews, Mdlalose revoked his testimony and said, in fact, he did not shoot Monika Manilall and did not know who did.

State advocate Attie Truter yesterday stepped in to conduct the inquiry into Mdlalose’s startling allegations.

The first witness, Inspector Pillay, testified that no promises at all were made to Mdlalose.

He said he was not involved in the case when Mdlalose pleaded guilty to having murdered Manilall, but said Mdlalose spoke to his colleague, ­Mebra Nzimande, at court and indicated he would assist the state with a future trial.

Mdlalose subsequently made a statement to him on February 9. He did so freely and voluntarily after saying he was “not going down alone”.

Pillay said he was also present when Barnard consulted Mdlalose ahead of the present trial on April 23 this year, and said at that consultation Mdlalose confirmed the contents of his statement and that he was prepared to give evidence against the accused.

The case is proceeding

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