eMkhondo murders: Defence disputes survivor’s account of the assault

  • The courtroom will hear closing arguments in the bail application of eight males accused of homicide and tried homicide on Pampoenkraal Farm. 
  • The defence believes there are materials variations in the variations given by the State’s witness.
  • The defence used a transcript from an SABC Special Assignment interview to question the investigating officer.

Two completely different accounts by the State’s core witness, to some extent, exonerates some of the eight males accused of homicide and tried homicide on Pampoenkraal Farm, defence attorneys instructed the Piet Retief Magistrate’s Court in eMkhondo, Mpumalanga, on Thursday. 

A transcript from an SABC programme, Special Assignment, shaped the foundation of the defence’s cross-examination of investigating officer, Warrant Officer Vukile David Nhlapho.

Defence lawyer, advocate Jaap Cilliers, cross-examined the police officer in the bail listening to of Zenzele Yende, Werner Potgieter, Eliot Dlamini, Moses Dlamini, Cornelius Greyling, Sikhumbuzo Zikalala, Mzwakhe Dlamini and Nkosinathi Msibi.

The Justice of the Peace presiding is Dumisani Nxumalo.

The eight face expenses of homicide, tried homicide, kidnapping and defeating the ends of justice. 

They are accused of murdering Sifiso Joseph Thwala and Musa France Nene on the farm on 9 August 2020. 

News24 beforehand reported the two deceased males, together with Christopher Sthembiso Thwala, have been allegedly assaulted by the accused after their automobile broke down close to the farm.  They had been accused of stealing sheep. 

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Christopher Thwala survived the alleged assault, however his brother, Sifiso, and a buddy, Nene, have been killed. 

The transcript delivered to the courtroom was an interview Christopher did with the SABC, detailing his account of what occurred on the day. 

Cilliers put it to the courtroom that the account the survivor gave throughout the televised interview differed “materially” from a press release he gave the police, which Nhlapho closely relied on when he testified to oppose bail for the accused males.

Cilliers quizzed Nhlapho on the contents of the transcript from the SABC interview, placing it to him that there have been materials variations. 

“There can be no doubt that the incident being described here (in the transcript) is the incident that happened on 9 August 2020, near Pampoenkraal.

“And the solely individual in the complete world who might have mentioned, ‘my brother, my buddy and I, have been in the automobile’ is Christopher Thwala as a result of the different two individuals have handed away, sadly,” Cilliers said as he cross-examined Nhlapho. 

Cilliers added:

All I want to put to you, [a] general reference statement, the version here, specifically with reference to who was involved in the assault – differs materially from the summarised version. That’s what we will argue.


The lawyer did not go into detail about what exactly differed, saying he would go deeper during his closing arguments.

Nhlapho did not have a comment on the defence’s view. 

Cilliers also quizzed the officer about the ID parade of the accused. 

He disputed the police’s view that Potgieter and Greyling were not cooperative during the parade.

The defence lawyer said he was instructed that they were, but the police did not have other “adequate white individuals” to form part of the parade. They expected the then legal representative to bring other people for the parade. 

Before the magistrate accepted the use of the transcript for questioning, the prosecutor, Vuyo Mkhulise, submitted there was no legal basis for it to be used.

He questioned the transcript’s authenticity, saying there were no signatures, and it was not commissioned. 

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Cilliers countered by saying the core reason was because it exonerated “not less than 4 of the accused”.

“Your worship, so far as relevance is anxious, with nice respect to my discovered buddy, the submission regarding the impact that it was not executed below oath, has nothing to do with relevance. 

“The relevance in these proceedings is that the versions provided by Mr Thwala (Christopher), in person, on video, exonerates at least, and I emphasise, at least, four of the applicants before your worship, as not involved at all in the alleged assaults,” Cilliers instructed the courtroom. 

He mentioned it was for that cause it was essential the courtroom obtained the materials.  

Nxumalo mentioned, though he welcomed the issues of the transcript’s relevance and authenticity,  he was not too apprehensive about it at this stage.

“With that said, and with all the concerns that I acknowledged the State has raised, I will welcome those concerns again in the form of an argument at a later stage, about the value of such a transcript,” Nxumalo mentioned. 

The Justice of the Peace added that he would pronounce throughout his bail judgment whether or not the transcript was of any worth in the direction of the collective proof handed to the courtroom.  

The courtroom expects to listen to closing arguments on Friday.

Judgment is predicted to be delivered subsequent week. 

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