Senzo: cops return to former suspect’s home
Family of the man say being forced to revisit ordeal is hurting
BARELY a day after charges were withdrawn against Zamokuhle Mbatha, two investigating officers in the murder and robbery case of slain Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa returned to Mbatha’s Vosloorus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On Tuesday, charges were withdrawn against him at the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court.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.