Senzo: cops re­turn to for­mer sus­pect’s home

Fam­ily of the man say be­ing forced to re­visit or­deal is hurt­ing

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - KUTL­WANO OLI­FANT AND MPILETSO MOTUMI kutl­wano.oli­

BARELY a day after charges were with­drawn against Zamokuhle Mbatha, two in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cers in the mur­der and rob­bery case of slain Bafana Bafana cap­tain Senzo Meyiwa re­turned to Mbatha’s Vosloorus home.

This time, the of­fi­cers were try­ing to ob­tain the PIN code of a cell­phone be­long­ing to Mbatha’s girl­friend.

The Star un­der­stands that the cell­phones of Mbatha and his girl­friend were con­fis­cated when the 27-year-old was ar­rested on Oc­to­ber 30 while at his friend’s spaza shop, a street away from his home.

The cell­phones were not re­turned to Mbatha de­spite his re­lease from cus­tody on Tues­day.

Yes­ter­day, the Mbatha fam­ily re­ferred The Star to one Sa­belo Nyawo, who could not dis­close Mbatha’s where­abouts. How­ever, he said Mbatha had co-op­er­ated with the of­fi­cers dur­ing their visit ear­lier.

“We find it strange that they asked him for his PIN code twice. If they were pro­fes­sional, they could have recorded it the first time he pro­vided them with the code. We do not trust them (the po­lice) any­more. If they were able to ob­tain the PIN code pre­vi­ously while Zamo was in cus­tody, then why did they have to come back?” he asked.

On Tues­day, the fam­ily said Mbatha had been taken to Lady­smith, KwaZulu-Natal.

Po­lice spokesman Neville Malila said he could not com­ment on the in­ves­ti­ga­tions. He was re­fer­ring to di­vi­sional Com­mis­sioner of De­tec­tive Ser­vices Lieu­tenant-Gen­eral Vi­nesh Moonoo’s com­ment last week that the me­dia would no longer be briefed on the mat­ter.

A source told The Star that the po­lice’s visit re­vived the hurt the fam­ily had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing.

Mbatha was ar­rested two days be­fore Meyiwa was buried in Ch­ester­ville out­side Dur­ban.

Po­lice had kept his ar­rest a se­cret and made an an­nounce­ment after his court ap­pear­ance.

Po­lice had said then they were con­fi­dent Mbatha was in­volved in Meyiwa’s killing and pub­licly de­clared their break­through in the mur­der of the goal­keeper.

On Tues­day, charges were with­drawn against him at the Boks­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court.

Pros­e­cu­tor Gertrude Mar­ket told mag­is­trate Daniel Thu­lare there were new de­vel­op­ments in the case and that the po­lice were in­ves­ti­gat­ing. There was also the pos­si­bil­ity of iden­tity pa­rades be­ing held again.

In­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence, dis­crep­an­cies, in­con­sis­ten­cies and a lot of con­tra­dic­tion in wit­ness state­ments prompted the Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity to with­draw the charges against Mbatha, NPA spokesman Nathi Mn­cube said out­side the court after pro­ceed­ings.

Mbatha’s at­tor­ney Mx­olisi Nd­wandwe said yes­ter­day his client was not well and seemed trau­ma­tised. “He told both his fam­ily and I that he felt much safer in cus­tody than be­ing out­side. That did not sit well with his fam­ily,” said Nd­wandwe.

The lawyer said he could only meet with Mbatha and his fam­ily at the week­end to dis­cuss a way for­ward on the mat­ter.

“We must also re­mem­ber that the State didn’t ac­quit him as yet, but charges were with­drawn. It would only be fair for the po­lice to apol­o­gise to him. He is still young. At 27, he still needs to get a job and get his life back on track,” said Nd­wandwe.

Mean­while, the SA Polic­ing Union (Sapu) yes­ter­day con­demned the way the po­lice han­dled the Meyiwa case, say­ing the po­lice were play­ing pol­i­tics.

Sapu gen­eral sec­re­tary Os­car Skom­mere said in a state­ment: “We are of the view that the SAPS man­age­ment’s han­dling of this case – be­cause of its high-pro­file na­ture – has re­sulted in the man­age­ment putting de­tec­tives un­der ex­treme pres­sure. The fact that the vic­tim is a high­pro­file (in­di­vid­ual) should not in­flu­ence the SAPS to change the rules so as to please the pub­lic.”

Skom­mere said the mix­ing of pol­i­tics and pub­lic re­la­tions in po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions would com­pro­mise jus­tice. “The pri­mary duty of the po­lice is to bring the sus­pects to book, not to make head­line news,” he said.

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