Mihalik murder case: Interpreter issue delays bail bid of trio

2019-04-02 16:51
Pete Mihalik. (File, Son)

Pete Mihalik. (File, Son)

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WATCH: 'It looked like a toy gun, he was so calm about it' - eyewitness describes Mihalik murder

2018-10-30 17:21

An eyewitness to the murder of prominent advocate Pete Mihalik in Cape Town, says the killer walked away from the scene calmly, carrying what "looked like a toy gun". Watch the video above.WATCH

Three people accused of murdering lawyer Pete Mihalik were ready and the passage of the Cape Town Magistrate's Court was lined with armed Anti-Gang Unit members wearing bulletproof vests on Tuesday morning.

Lawyers, the prosecutor and magistrate held their pens over their legal pads ready for the bail applications of Vuyile Maliti, Sizwe Sinzokohle Biyela and Nkosinathi Khumalo. They are accused of being behind the suspected "hit" on Mihalik, who represented a broad spectrum of clients.

The long-awaited submissions for their bail application were supposed to have shed some light on their response to being accused of being part of a plot in which Mihalik was shot in the head through the window of his SUV while doing the school run in Green Point, Cape Town, last October. 

There were even a few lawyers who kept a low profile as they popped in to observe the matter.

No interpreter to translate the legal proceedings

However, there was one hitch: there was no interpreter to translate the legal proceedings from English to isiZulu for the accused.

"The supervisor of the interpreters was sitting here," said a startled prosecutor Helene Booysen, turning to the empty space on the bench that had been occupied by a tall man moments earlier. 

"We have to finalise today," she said. 

Biyela's lawyer Jannie Kruger added that he had a flight back to Johannesburg at 17:00 and also wanted to get on with it.

An unimpressed Magistrate Greg Jacobs stood the matter down in the hope that somebody would track down the previous interpreter, understood to have been sent off to the Khayelitsha Magistrate's Court for the day.

The three accused were led back down the steps to the court's holding cells. 

They each face charges of murder and attempted murder, after Mihalik's son was shot and survived, and the possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition. His daughter was not physically harmed, but his death left the children orphaned.

Jacobs moved on to postpone other matters for various reasons and to accommodate the Mihalik matter another bail application, expected to have been heard on Tuesday, was postponed to late May.

After a lengthy break, punctuated by journalists racing off to find out more about a claim that businessperson Nafiz Modack had been shot dead, the Mihalik matter resumed in a markedly thinned-out court. 

READ:Slain advocate Pete Mihalik lost his wife, mother and sister to suicides

Booysen said the Wynberg, Goodwood, Blue Downs and Parow courts had been contacted in search of an isiZulu interpreter. The contact person for interpreters at the Khayelitsha court was not picking up.

"I phoned the Western Cape High Court myself," said Booysen, who hoped that since they were in recess, they would have capacity.

"There is just not a Zulu interpreter," said Booysen.

And, needing at least two to three hours to read through the statements, would make Kruger late for his flight even if an interpreter was suddenly produced. 

Jacobs took all this in and declared: "We have a situation."

He said it would not be fair to press on in English for the sake of two of the men who spoke isiZulu.

The matter was postponed to April 17 and as the accused left, Maliti leant over the dock, held his lawyer's hand and said quickly: "Call my wife," before he was led away again.

The three are being held in separate prisons.

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Read more on:    pete mihalik  |  cape town  |  courts  |  crime

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