Decision on MaNtuli blackmail case soon

2014-04-09 00:00

THE man charged with sending intimidating SMS messages to President Jacob Zuma’s wife is expected to find out next week whether or not the state will proceed with the prosecution against him.

State prosecutor T. Bechan told Camperdown magistrate Thys Taljaard yesterday that the police investigation into the allegations against Steven Masunga has been finalised and the docket is already with the office of the KZN Director of Public Prosecutions.

Bechan said she was told that the DPP’s decision “might be available by April 17”, the date to which the case was adjourned.

Bechan added that the state is trying to expedite the case.

Masunga is charged with sending intimidating SMSes to Zuma’s second wife, Nompumelelo Ntuli (known as MaNtuli) and threatening to expose her “secrets” in order to get her to arrange a business meeting with the president.

Unlike his court appearance on March 11 this year when he dramatically threatened to take his own life and then swallowed a pill in court, Masunga seemed subdued yesterday.

He was brought to court dressed in the multi-coloured shirt he has worn for all his appearances, and clutched a Bible in his hands.

Masunga did not make any statements from the dock, as he has been prone to do on previous occasions.

His brother, Wilo Ongolo, told members of the media outside court that he has visited his brother a number of times since he was admitted to the prison hospital after his apparent suicide attempt on March 11.

“He is fine. I saw him last night and he was sort of expecting to come out today,” said Ongolo.

He shrugged when asked if it was known what medication Masunga took or what his condition is, but added that he seemed to be “stronger”. “He has never left the [prison] hospital,” he said.

Masunga fell on the floor writhing soon after swallowing a pill as he left the courtroom after his previous appearance. Moments earlier he’d declared that he would rather die than continue suffering in prison.

Several hours later an ambulance fetched him from the courthouse.

The head of detectives in KwaZulu-Natal, Brigadier Clifford Marion, testified at Masunga’s bail hearing last month that Masunga had met Ma­Ntuli Zuma in 2010 and wanted her to arrange a meeting for him with the president, but she’d told him it wasn’t possible.

In January this year he started sending her threatening SMSes.

“He said ‘I am now going to the press to reveal secrets that I know about you’,” the brigadier testified.

However, in his evidence Masunga claimed the first lady had made threats against him, and not the other way around.

He said he and MaNtuli were friends who “knew things” about each other.

“People advised her that this boy was going to talk … I don’t want to say too much … She was advised that she must finish me off quickly. That is when she started threatening me,” he said.

One of the alleged “secrets” he knew related to her alleged love child.

Masunga, who is Tanzanian, was denied bail on grounds that he might skip the country and not return. The magistrate also said if Masunga felt his life was at risk, which he apparently did, this would encourage him to leave the country.

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