From warehouse worker to Kruger rand dealer: Alleged Mihalik triggerman testifies

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The three men accused of killing lawyer Pete Mihalik, Sizwe Biyela, Nkosinathi Khumalo, and Vuyile Maliti.
The three men accused of killing lawyer Pete Mihalik, Sizwe Biyela, Nkosinathi Khumalo, and Vuyile Maliti.
Astrid Februarie
  • The man alleged to be the triggerman in the Pete Mihalik murder, was a Kruger rand dealer.
  • His long-awaited testimony began on Thursday. 
  • This after his Kruger rand connection in Cape Town, accused three Vuyile Maliti, lost an application to have the case against him discharged.

The first of the three men accused of killing lawyer Pete Mihalik finally began telling his story in his own words on Thursday when he took the witness stand in the Western Cape High Court.  

The State alleged Sizwe Biyela was the triggerman captured on CCTV walking up to Mihalik's Mercedes-Benz on 3 October 2018 in a checked shirt and squeezing the trigger twice.

Mihalik died minutes later in the driver's seat, with an injured son in the back and a hysterical daughter looking for help.

They were about to be dropped off at school at Reddam House Atlantic Seaboard, but unbeknown to them, the State alleged, Mihalik's "heavy foot" on the accelerator was being tempered by a car in front who was slowing him down to get the timing of the killing right.

Biyela has pleaded not guilty.

He finally took the witness stand on Thursday after co-accused Vuyile Maliti's application for a discharge was refused. 

The isiZulu-speaker raised his hand and, after being sworn in, was asked to speak slowly and clearly so that the interpreters would have enough time to translate.

READ | Meghan Cremer murder: 'The truth came out' - Jeremy Sias says after acquittal

Biyela is a 30-year-old unmarried father of three from Umlazi. He has a Grade 9 qualification and was a general worker in a warehouse. 

One day in a tavern, a man started talking to him and proposed that he (Biyela) buy Kruger rands from him, then sell them on. Biyela agreed to do business with the as-yet-unnamed man.

"And that's how I came to buy and sell [Kruger rands]," he testified.

He got hold of his cousin, accused number two Nkosinathi Khumalo, and told him about the business proposal made to him in the tavern.

Khumalo said he could get Kruger rands for them to buy and sell.

They also agreed to buy the Kruger rands the man was selling. 

He has not said where the coin stock came from yet. 

Then he spoke to a "Nkosi", who is not involved in the case, and Nkosi said he had a connection in Cape Town. 

The connection was Maliti, and that was how he met accused number three, Maliti. They started working together around 2016.

He would go to Cape Town, give Maliti Kruger rands, and Maliti would sell them and pay Biyela in cash. 

Earlier, during Maliti's discharge application, his lawyer argued Maliti had nothing to do with Mihalik's murder and any circumstantial evidence, such as cellphone tower data and CCTV, was nowhere near enough to keep him on trial. 

He said Maliti's only contact with his co-accused was to facilitate the sale of R200 000 worth of Kruger rands.

"If that's all the State has against him, they must discharge him," he added.

He said everybody knew cellphone location data was questionable because signals "bounce around" until they found a tower with a strong enough signal.

READ | Mihalik murder-accused claims drunk cops took his mom away during raid

The lawyer added the men were actually in Sea Point at the time of the murder, and even when they were pulled over for not stopping at a stop street, "they were not screaming around the corner".  

Prosecutor Greg Wolmarans said the "powerful raw data" of the cellphone showed they were in repeated calls to each other, which became more frequent once Khumalo was taken in by a traffic officer for leaving the scene, and then walking back. 

"Once [Khumalo] was with the traffic cop, you can almost feel the panic due to the frequency of the short calls. There is only one explanation: they had lost a team member," added Wolmarans.

"The evidence is circumstantial, but it is absolutely compelling evidence."

Judge Constance Nziweni said after considering Maliti's application, she felt he did have a case to answer and would remain on trial. 

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