Shack fire murder case witness in safe house

2013-03-11 00:00

A WOMAN who gave evidence last week in the trial of three accused charged with burning a man alive in a shack at Lidgetton near Howick in 2010, has been moved to a safe location as she had felt “intimidated” by people at court.

This emerged on Friday when one of the three accused, Senzosihle Sikhakhane (25), applied for bail before Acting Judge Igna Stretch.

Sikhakhane’s two co-accused, Goodness Mchunu (35) and Sibongiseni Mkhize (23), are already on bail. The state is, however, opposing Sikhakhane’s bail application on grounds that he is a flight risk and could pose a threat to state witnesses.

Sikhakhane’s advocate, Sifiso Ntini, told the court that his client disputed this and said his reason for not applying for bail previously was that he could not afford it.

The current investigating officer, Warrant Officer Werner Claasen, expressed concern that Sikhakhane had suddenly decided to apply for bail after electing to remain in custody without applying for bail for the past two years.

In an affidavit read to court by state advocate Melanie Naicker, Claasen questioned the timing of Sikhakhane’s bail application, which came in the wake of last Monday’s testimony by an alleged accomplice to the crimes, Kombisile Vilakazi.

After Vilakazi’s testimony, defence advocate Dalene Barnard — representing Mchunu and Mkhize — withdrew from the case, citing conflict of interest with her clients. The case was postponed to April 2.

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