A former domestic worker and a practising sangoma, who last year was charged with arranging her late employer’s murder, walked free on Monday after the state withdrew charges against her.
Emily Mchunu, a former employee of Pietermaritzburg businessman Ashraf Mohideen, who was stabbed to death at his home in James Niven Road in Scottsville on February 15 last year, was arrested soon after the incident and charged alongside Mohideen’s son Jibraeel and two alleged “hitmen”, Joshua Nxumalo and Zandisile Mtshali.
Jibraeel Mohideen and Mtshali confessed to their involvement and pleaded guilty before Judge Rishi Seegobin.
Mchunu and Nxumalo, however, denied guilt and their trial was set down for hearing in the high court this week.
Jibraeel Mohideen is currently serving a 20-year prison sentence and Mtshali 25 years.
In his plea in the high court last year, Mohideen alleged that he’d had a troubled relationship with his father and as a result had confided in Mchunu.
Mohideen claimed that Mchunu had assisted him by arranging for the hitmen who carried out the murder of his father.
At the time of the actual robbery, police found Mchunu tied up inside the house and she claimed to have also been a victim of the robber gang responsible for stabbing and slitting the throat of her employer, Ashraf Mohideen.
When the trial against Nxumalo and Mchunu started yesterday, state advocate Gugu Shange informed Acting Judge Erica Zaca and his assessor C.S. Mlotshwa that the state was withdrawing charges against Mchunu and she was free to go.
Shange did not give the court any reasons for the charges being withdrawn, but sources close to the case told The Witness that Mohideen had allegedly elected not to testify for the prosecution in the matter.
This left the state with insufficient evidence to prove the charge against Mchunu.
Nxumalo, who in his plea outlining his defence to the court yesterday described Mchunu as his girlfriend, denied that he was involved in any way with Mohideen’s murder.
His legal representative, Xolani Potwana, said Nxumalo’s instructions to him are that on the day of the incident he (Nxumalo) went to Mchunu’s place of employment (Mohideen’s home) to see Mchunu.
He also wanted to see Jibraeel (Mohideen) about a welding job he had promised him.
“While looking for them, standing outside the house, outside the kitchen door and leaning on the door, I felt something hitting me on my arm. I was shocked and confused as to what had happened and then I walked away,” Nxumalo said in his plea.
No further evidence was led in the case yesterday as Potwana requested more time to consult with Nxumalo before the state starts calling its witnesses in the trial.
Shange told the court earlier that some of the evidence the state intends leading will revolve around an alleged statement Nxumalo made to a Pietermaritzburg magistrate, Chris van Vuuren.
Because the admissibility of the statement is going to be disputed by the defence, a “trial within a trial” will be held in order for the court to decide if the statement can be admitted as evidence in the case.
The case is proceeding.