Zanokuhle Mbatha, who was arrested in Nongoma, KwaZulu-Natal, on Wednesday, has been charged with the murder of Senzo Meyiwa.
The 25-year-old, who is believed to be the man with dreadlocks in the Identikit police drew up this week, was picked out of a police line-up by Meyiwa’s friend, Tumelo Madlala, who was in the house when Meyiwa was shot.
The identity parade was held on Thursday afternoon, while a memorial service for the slain Bafana Bafana captain was under way at the Standard Bank Arena in Joburg.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Nathi Mncube confirmed that Mbatha was charged with
murder and armed robbery when he appeared in the Boksburg Magistrates’ Court on Friday.
Police confirmed the two suspects arrested at the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe in connection with Meyiwa’s murder were released yesterday afternoon. They could not be connected to the crime. The two were trying to cross into Zimbabwe at the time they were taken into custody, and were then taken to Joburg.
High-level police sources said officers attached to the tracing unit were in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday hoping to make further arrests.
Mbatha’s case was postponed until November 11 and he has asked for legal aid.
The arrests followed a massive manhunt across three provinces after Meyiwa’s murder on Sunday.
National police commissioner Riah Phiyega announced that a task team had been put together to catch the killers. Officers working the case include members of the tracing unit from Joburg’s Brixton Police Station, national and provincial detectives, forensic experts and Hawks members.
They have been working in shifts around the clock.
Meanwhile, City Press understands that bitter rivalry exists between the police working the case and the private detectives hired by the Meyiwa family to investigate the murder.
Several police sources told City Press the officers are under pressure to solve the case before the private investigators do.
Two senior police officers and a close friend of the Meyiwa family said the private investigators, attached to Magma Security in Durban, arrived in Joburg three days after the murder.
But they have been unable to access the statements made by witnesses at the scene, including by Meyiwa’s girlfriend Kelly Khumalo; her mother, Ntombi; her sister, Zandile; and Zandile’s friend, Longwe Twala.
One of the police investigators on the team and another officer at the Vosloorus Police Station said
the witness statements were under heavy guard, and have not been put into the system according to normal police procedure.
“The only time they [the statements] are seen is during the strategy meetings in the morning. No one has easy access to that stuff,” an officer said.
Lead private investigator and Magma Security manager Shaheen Suleiman declined to comment.
“We are very busy right now following up on the leads. Once we are done, we will talk, but for now let us do our work,” he said.
A senior Gauteng police detective with intimate knowledge of the case said: “The police are obviously under tremendous pressure and in a desperate quest
to prove to the nation that they are capable. It [worries] the top brass that private investigators were hired to investigate Senzo Meyiwa’s murder,” he said.
“It can never be well with the police that private investigators crack the case when we are the ones really in charge, and especially at this time when the public’s perception of the police is not impressive.”
Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Neville Malila said police and private investigators were undertaking parallel investigations.
“We’re doing our own investigation. If they [private investigators] need to compare notes, our investigators are ready to work with them,” he said.
He denied any friction existed between them.
“We’ve already had meetings with senior investigators from their team. There’s collaboration; there are no issues between us.”
Police, meanwhile, have tried in vain to stem information leaks.
On Friday, as the two suspects were arrested at the border, an officer on the scene took pictures, which were later posted on Twitter.
A senior police source said on Friday: “We don’t know who leaked the pictures, but it has caused some internal issues. But that is not the investigation team’s focus right now. We are still following other leads and expect more arrests.
“We haven’t caught all our men yet.”
After Mbatha’s court appearance, police detectives were seen driving around Vosloorus, stopping at houses and questioning residents.
At least three of Khumalo’s neighbours said the three men who invaded the house last Sunday were spotted walking the streets before the shooting.
“The boys were asking people where Kelly lived. I know of people who were asked and they directed the boys,” said one. “These boys knew exactly what house they were looking for,” said another.