Palesa Madiba murder: Accused did not go to work on the day victim went missing, court hears

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Dumisani Mkhwanazi, the man standing trial for the alleged murder of UJ student Palesa Madiba in 2013, appears at South Gauteng High Court. (Papi Morake, Gallo Images)
Dumisani Mkhwanazi, the man standing trial for the alleged murder of UJ student Palesa Madiba in 2013, appears at South Gauteng High Court. (Papi Morake, Gallo Images)
  • Dimakatso Makhetha was a tenant at the house where University of Johannesburg student Palesa Madiba's body was found.
  • Madiba's body was found buried in a grave behind Tshidi's home on 16 December 2016. 
  • A witness told the court the accused knew their routine.

A witness in the murder trial of Dumisani Mkhwanazi, the man accused of killing University of Johannesburg (UJ) student Palesa Madiba, has told the court she noticed paving she had not seen at the backyard when she went to hang her clothes, five days after Madiba had gone missing. 

Dimakatso Makhetha, also known as Makhi, testified in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg before Judge Prince Manyathi on Friday.

She testified that on 12 August 2013, the day Madiba went missing, Mkhwanazi had not gone to work.

He faces charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, defeating the administration of justice and the unlawful possession of a firearm and live ammunition.

Madiba went missing after she visited her friend Matshidiso Mkhwanazi's home in Phiri, Soweto, on 9 August 2013.

Matshidiso, known as Tshidi, is the accused's niece.

On Thursday, she testified that on 12 August 2013, she had left Madiba and went to work.

Madiba was a final year Bcom Accounting student at the UJ Soweto campus.

Tshidi testified when she tried calling Madiba after arriving at work, her cellphone went to voicemail. 

During examination, led by prosecutor Faghre Mohamed on Friday, Makhetha said she had been a tenant at Dumisani's house since October 2011.

READ | Close friend testifies about final morning spent with Palesa Madiba

She testified there were several other occupants in the yard; Dumisani's mother, Thandi, Tshidi, and a boy who attended school, called Adam - who were living in the main house – while she and another couple rented outside rooms.

Dumisani also occupied one of the backrooms and only used the main house to eat and bath, the court heard.

Detailing the events of the morning of 12 August, when Madiba was last seen by Tshidi, Makhetha said she had taken his child to school at around 07:00.

She told the court when she left and returned, she noticed no movements and sounds of other people in the yard, including the main house.

Makhetha recalled that upon her return, Dumisani's mother asked her whether Madiba had already left the house and that she should leave the house keys when she did.

I told her that I haven't seen Palesa and she told me to wake up Dumisani and tell him to go and check on a man who was supposed to fit doors at the house. She asked me to accompany Dumisani because she did not trust he would go and check on the person.

Makhetha said Dumisani also informed her Madiba had left the house at around 07:00 and had given the house keys to him.

On their way to the artisan, Makhetha said Dumisani informed her he was "tired" and that was why he had not gone to work.

The witness told the court she did not notice whether Dumisani's girlfriend, who frequently visited him, was around that day.

"He voluntary told me he did not go to work because he was tired."

She added: 

When we arrived back at home, as we walked past, the kitchen window was opened. I heard music playing from inside the house.I then went inside my room and locked myself in. I then left my room again around 12:00 after Tshidi (niece) called me. I told Tshidi I never saw Palesa. I told her that I don't know what time it was when Palesa left but I was informed by Dumisani that he saw her when she left.


Makhetha also recalled that she left her room again at around 12:00 but at that time, Adam, who had just arrived from KwaZulu-Natal, was in the yard.

Adam accompanied her to a store but before they arrived, they made a pass at a particular house.

Makhetha testified Adam told her he was sent by Dumisani to the house. On arrival, the boy spoke to someone, but she was not aware what the conversation was about.

She added Adam had also informed her he was unable to enter the house and she alerted him that Dumisani said the keys were with him.

"When we returned, we noticed the kitchen door was open and Adam was able to enter the house."

Moving on to the events which unfolded following the Monday, Makhetha said the police had gone to the house to search it.

On Saturday 17 August, when she went to hang her clothes on the washing line, she noticed new paving.

"When I went to hang my clothing on the Saturday, I found the area paved."

Makhetha said the last time she had went to the backyard, the paving was not there.

During cross-examination, Dumisani's lawyer, Dominic Thinani, questioned whether Makhetha had seen any movement of other people in the yard after that Monday and before the Saturday she noticed the paving, she said no.

Makhetha testified that Dumisani was probably aware of their routine as tenants because the set-up of their flats was such that one could hear when the other left.

The trial continues and the State is expected to hear testimony from at least five other witnesses. 

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