The police were adamant that Zanokuhle Mbatha was “their” suspect for the Senzo Meyiwa, but the court wasn’t convinced.
Boksburg magistrate Daniel Thulare today said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute Mbatha (27) for the murder and robbery of the Bafana Bafana captain last month.
“I understand the anger and irritation of the public ... with murder and robbery and other related crimes. I find the anger and irritation to be natural but after careful consideration, I withdraw changes against Mbatha. He’ll be released soon,” said Thulare.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Nathi Mncube told City Press that the suspect was identified by two witnesses during the identity parade.
“The suspect was identified by two witnesses during the ID parade. But we have realised that there is lot of contradiction in the evidence. We have decided to withdraw the matter. The investigations will still go ahead until the police arrest the right suspects,” said Mncube.
Asked what they would do if Mbatha decided to sue the state, Mncube said: “He can sue if he wants to; I would also do the same.”
Mbatha was reportedly waiting for a legal aid lawyer to represent him, but today he was represented by a private lawyer, Mxolisi Ndwandwe.
Mbatha’s family members, who attended proceedings, chanted “Zama is innocent. Zama is innocent” and hugged each other after the magistrate pronounced his ruling.
His girlfriend, Joyce, looked amazed but didn't show any emotion.
Mbatha’s sister-in-law, Lindiwe Mwandle, told City Press that there were no grounds for Mbatha to be arrested.
“I always give Mbatha my bank card and PIN number to withdraw money for me and he’s never robbed me – he’s not a criminal,” said Mwandle.
“We thank Ndwandwe for doing a great job,” she said.
An Orlando Pirates fan who came to court, Bulelani Ngutshane, told City Press that although Mbatha was a free man, he wouldn’t sleep well until the police arrested the people who were involved in Meyiwa’s killing.
Last week, residents of Mzamo Street in Vosloorus were confident that Mbatha was innocent. They described him as an innocent and quiet guy, who washed cars for a living.
Mbatha’s girlfriend last week told City Press that he was with her when Meyiwa was shot at Kelly Khumalo’s house.
“I’m very confused that the police are saying he is a suspect,” said Joyce at the time.