Lazarus sings for fans

2014-02-19 00:00

“LAZARUS” Sibusiso John Gcabashe burst into song at the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday for his fans.

Gcabashe, who has been in custody for two years, was charged with impersonating the maskandi artist Khulekani Kwakhe Mseleku, affectionately known as Mgqumeni.

Gcabashe danced as he confidently sang a song he said he had recently composed for his fans and for the Khumalo family members who were at court. Some tried to sing along as others applauded as his voice rang out in the courtroom after the magistrate left. The people in court said they were impressed and happy that he can still sing.

In the song he says he was arrested for his name, his life and “for nothing”.

The commander of the criminal record centre in Nquthu, Captain Philip Ferreira, under cross-examination, told the court that he had been stopped from entering the homestead of the Khumalos on the first day Gcabashe was placed under police guard to protect him from the curious hordes of people.

“I was there with my kit to take fingerprints on the day but the police did not allow me inside as they told me that he was still going to undergo a cleansing process. As a white person I wouldn’t understand as I don’t know the tradition or culture about his cleansing. I did see the accused coming out of the rondavel and I was told he didn’t want to see me on the day,” said Ferreira.

He said he asked Warrant Officer C. D. Ngobese the following day to go and take fingerprints as he would understand the tradition.

The fingerprints of the late Mseleku and those of Gcabashe did not match.

Gcabashe’s attorney John Botha asked why the officer took fingerprints because the then police spokesperson Colonel Vincent Mdunge announced on national television that he had verified Mgqumeni’s identity and he was going to be unveiled to the public. He added that they could provide the footage of this if the court wanted it.

Ferreira said he could not remember the exact words Mdunge used but it was reported in the media and he wanted to verify his identity because he had been at the funeral of the artist when he was buried.

“It was public interest and everyone wanted to know what was happening.”

The state called the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Eric Maphari, to testify about how Gcabashe tried to escape from the Nquthu Magistrate’s Court.

He said Gcabashe was fine that day while in the cells. He was escorted to the courtroom, which was packed with local people, police officers, staff and media, with each door — except the magistrate’s door — guarded by police.

“He was scratching his body when he suddenly jumped from the accused’s dock, passing behind his attorney to the witness dock.” He then jumped over to the door that the magistrate uses to enter the court room, said Maphari.

After Maphari’s evidence, state prosecutor Nkonzo Mlotshwa closed the state’s case. Botha asked for an adjournment before he could start with the defence case as he wants to get the transcript and decide whether Gcabashe will testify.

Magistrate Rose Mogwera, who was not sure which name to use when calling Gcabashe, said, “It’s not that I have found that you are Gcabashe, but I will call you by the name on the charge sheet as Gcabashe.”

The matter was then adjourned until April 4 for transcripts.

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