Acid murder case weak, says man’s attorney

2015-10-28 10:27
Thulile Phungula (Supplied to The Witness)

Thulile Phungula (Supplied to The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - The evidence against the alleged killer of Lifeline staffer Thulile Phungula, 23, is “far from devastating”, the man’s attorney said in the magistrate’s court on Tuesday.

Phungula’s ex-boyfriend, Siphiwe Mbanjwa, 35, is charged with murdering her on August 21 by forcing her to drink battery acid.

His attorney, Phumlani Fakude, urged magistrate M Boikhutso to grant Mbanjwa bail, saying even people facing serious charges are entitled to bail. An example was businessman, Rajivee Soni, who got bail while facing a very serious charge of murdering his wife’s alleged lover.


“The only evidence against my client [Mbanjwa] is of a cellphone call, and a hearsay statement by the deceased [Phungula’s] mother,” said Fakude.

He said there was no evidence Mbanjwa would abscond or interfere with witnesses if on bail.

Prosecutor Samkelisiwe Hlongwane disagreed.

“I have no words to describe the degree of violence and cruelty in this case,” said Hlongwane.

She said this is a prevalent crime and “almost no day passes” without courts having to deal with a case of violence against a woman by her spouse or partner.

If convicted, Mbanjwa faces a possible minimum sentence of life imprisonment, she added.

Hlongwane said the evidence will show that Mbanjwa phoned Phungula “around the time of the incident” the day she died, despite his denials that he did.

There is also a statement by Phungula’s mother that her daughter told her it was Mbanjwa who attacked her.

“These are matters for the trial court to decide but they carry weight,” said Hlongwane.

She added that Mbanjwa knows the state witnesses and he and Phungula’s mother “are neighbours”.

Even if he relocated, the court could not guarantee her safety.

Safety fears

Hlongwane added that people from “different parts of the world” expressed anger and shock at Mbanjwa’s alleged actions and signed a petition against bail.

Hlongwane maintained that Mbanjwa himself fears for his safety.

There was evidence that before his arrest he received SMSes and warnings and left home to stay at his aunt’s house for his own protection.

Fakude asked the court to remember that Mbanjwa did not flee from police, but actually went to the police station prior to his arrest to ask if there was a case against him.

Boikhutso hopes to give her ruling on November 9.

In his evidence earlier this month, Mbanjwa denied killing Phungula.

Investigating officer, Kwazi Mntungwa, said on the night of the attack Phungula knocked on her mother’s door at Willowfountain (where she also lived).

The mother opened the door to find Phungula standing there with visible injuries on her face and neck and holding her trousers in her hand.

“She said the accused was trying to kill her,” said Mntungwa.

A doctor found that Phungula was “strangled” and made to drink acid.

There was also acid poured into her private parts.

She died in hospital.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  domestic violence

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