Acid murder court denial

2015-10-08 10:48


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Pietermaritzburg - The ex-boyfriend of Lifeline staffer Thulile Phungula has denied that he killed her.

Siphiwe Mbanjwa (35) is charged with murdering Phungula (23) on August 21 by forcing her to drink battery acid.

Mbanjwa, who wants to be released on bail, admitted in evidence that there were “problems” in his relationship with Phungula which started after he questioned whether he was the father of her child, now three years old.

However, he maintained that they had a “good” relationship at the time of her death.

“I did not kill her,” he told Magistrate M. Boikhutso.

But Plessislaer Warrant Officer Kwazi Mntungwa said Phungula’s mother, a doctor, and two other witnesses made statements that she had identified Mbanjwa as her attacker before she died.

Mbanjwa said he did not know why Phungula would falsely identify him as her attacker.

He testified that he last saw her near her home on Saturday, August 15, a week before her death, but they merely greeted one another.

He only heard about her death on August 24.

Mbanjwa said he had received threatening text messages and phonecalls in the wake of her murder, and said he had gone to the Plessislaer police station on August 24 to “make enquiries”.

He was told by a Captain Dladla that there was no case opened against him. He then left.

Mbanjwa said he then lived with an aunt due to fears for his own safety.

Mbanjwa said he gave Dladla directions to his aunt’s home when the policeman telephoned him on August 28 to say that officers were looking for him.

He denied he was “hiding” there from police and said he did not resist arrest.

Mntungwa said the police were opposed to Mbanjwa’s release on bail on several grounds, including fears for the safety of state witnesses, fears for his own safety, and the fact that police had received a “memorandum” signed by people not only in Pietermaritzburg, but from as far afield as Durban, Gauteng, Springs and even London, who were opposed to his release.

He also said that Phungula was murdered during Women’s Month, when a call went out for the protection of women and children.

Mntungwa said on the night she was attacked, Phungula left her family, accompanied by her child, to go and sleep in an outbuilding at the homestead in Willowfountain.

“She later returned and knocked, and her mother opened the door. She [Phungula] was carrying her trousers in her hand. She had injuries on her face and neck, and when her mother asked her what had happened, she told her that the accused [Mbanjwa] was trying to kill her,” he said.

Cellphone records indicated that Mbanjwa had phoned her that night and that he had been “in Willowfountain” when he did so.

A doctor had found that Phungula was “strangled” and made to drink acid. Acid was also poured into her genitals.

There was a suspicion that she was raped, but police were still waiting on DNA results.

She died in hospital.

Replying to questions by Mbanjwa’s lawyer, Phumlani Fakude, the policeman agreed that the only evidence linking him to the murder was an alleged cellphone call and statements by witnesses that she had identified him as her attacker before she died.

The bail application resumes on October 15

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  court

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