Judge recommended for suspension as Senzo Meyiwa murder trial set to resume
The trial of five men accused of the murder of former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa is set to resume at the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. However, the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has recommended the immediate suspension of Presiding Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, citing several complaints against him and Judge Mngqibisa-Thusi.
The JSC’s recommendation for the suspension of Judge Maumela could potentially affect the progress of the trial, which was postponed in November 2021 to allow for the new legal counsel for accused 1 and 2, Advocate Sipho Ramosepele, to familiarise himself with the docket and other documents. The case was then scheduled to proceed from 2 May until 26 May, with a second date reserved for 5-15 June.
Meyiwa was shot dead on 26 October 2014 in Gauteng, in an alleged botched robbery. The five accused – Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, Bongani Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Maphisa, and Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli – face charges of premeditated murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravated circumstances, possession of firearms without a licence, and possession of ammunition. All five have pleaded not guilty.
During recent trial proceedings, accused 3, Mncube, informed the court in February that he would no longer be represented by Thomas Thobane, instead appointing advocates Mnisi and Mafafu. Accused 2, Ntanzi, had applied for bail in November 2022, but Judge Aubrey Ledwaba denied his application, citing a lack of exceptional circumstances and failure to prove it would be in the interest of justice.
The trial of the five accused has been a long and complicated process, with many delays and setbacks. The murder of Meyiwa, a beloved sports personality and national hero, has shocked and saddened many South Africans. The resumption of the trial will be closely watched by the public, as they seek to see justice done for Meyiwa and his family.
The JSC’s recommendation for the suspension of Judge Maumela has also raised concerns about the judiciary’s ability to effectively deal with high-profile cases such as this. It is expected that the JSC’s recommendation will be carefully considered and reviewed, to ensure that justice is served and the rule of law upheld.