Palesa Madiba murder: lawyer fails to appear, trial postponed

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Dumisani Mkhwanazi, 36, appears in the Protea Magistrate's Court in connection with the murder of UJ student Palesa Madiba. (Jeanette Chabalala/News24)
Dumisani Mkhwanazi, 36, appears in the Protea Magistrate's Court in connection with the murder of UJ student Palesa Madiba. (Jeanette Chabalala/News24)
  • UJ student Palesa Madiba went missing in 2013 after she left home to visit a friend.
  • In December 2015 her body was found buried in a shallow grave in her friend’s yard.
  • The judge warned accused Dumsani Mkhwanazi that if a lawyer wasn't present next time the matter would continue.

The trial of the man accused of murdering University of Johannesburg student Palesa Madiba in 2013 has once again been postponed after his lawyer failed to arrive in court. 

In a brief appearance in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday, Dumsani Mkhwanazi told the court that he did not know where his lawyer, Dominic Thinani, was. The matter was postponed last week when Thinani told the court that he intended to withdraw from the case as he had not received instructions, and had not been paid.

During proceedings on Monday, Judge Prince Manyathi called on Mkhwanazi’s sister, Tshidi Mkhwanazi, to explain why a lawyer was not present. She told the court that she had tried to set up a meeting with Thinani since the case was postponed last week, but their schedules kept clashing 

"I tried to call him again yesterday but his phone has been off since," said Tshidi addressing the court, sporting black sunglasses. 

Manyathi once again asked Mkhwanazi if he wanted a legal aid attorney, an offer which he declined. The judge warned that this would be the final postponement.

"The deceased's family, and you, have a right to a speedy trial. We can not keep playing games. If your lawyer is not here [on  Wednesday] I am going to set a trial date and you run the risk of not being represented," warned Manyathi.

Mkhwanazi is facing charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, defeating the administration of justice, and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Madiba went missing following a sleepover at her friend Tshidi Mkhwanazi's house in Phiri, Soweto, on 9 August 2013. Earlier, News24 reported that Tshidi told Madiba's relatives she last saw her on that day when she left her at home in Phiri. Tshidi is the accused's niece.

On 16 December 2015, Madiba's body was found in a shallow grave behind Tshidi's home after a neighbour saw an arm protruding from the ground, News24 reported.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said they were glad the judge had put his foot down. 

"We think it is quite important that the judge has put his foot down and told the accused that Wednesday will be the last postponement as the matter must be brought to finality. The family of the deceased have a right to justice and get closure,” said Mjonondwane.

The case will be back in court on Wednesday. 

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