Lunch­box de­lights the fam­ily will love

Deaf mur­der ac­cused insists he could not fol­low what was said when po­lice took his state­ment from him


He de­scribed the case as fraught with chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the fact that the sign lan­guage in­ter­preter was re­sid­ing out of town

Zuk­ile Danti, who is one of the three for­mer Efata School for the Deaf and Blind ac­cused of mur­der­ing the school’s deputy prin­ci­pal three years ago, did not un­der­stand what the sign lan­guage in­ter­preter was say­ing when the po­lice took a state­ment from him.

This was an ar­gu­ment put for­ward by his lawyer, Sa­belo Dingiswayo, at the Mthatha High Court on Fri­day. He said his client had in­formed him that he had also not been given a choice to ex­er­cise his right to re­main silent when the po­lice read him his rights fol­low­ing his ar­rest in Novem­ber 2015.

Danti, Luthando Sil­wana and Lunga Khim­bili were ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the mur­der of No­dumo Mdle­leni-Mz­i­mane, 50, who was found ly­ing in a pool of blood in­side Efata on July 28 in 2015.

On Fri­day, one of the state’s wit­nesses, Son­wabo Mankun­ty­wana, an ad­min­is­tra­tion clerk at the school, also tes­ti­fied. He told Judge Mpumelelo No­tu­nunu that he had acted as a sign lan­guage in­ter­preter for the po­lice when the three ac­cused were ar­rested.

This in­cluded trans­lat­ing for the po­lice when state­ments were made and the sus­pects were read their rights. He said he had also been used as a sign lan­guage in­ter­preter when they made their first court ap­pear­ance where they were granted bail.

But Dingiswayo dis­puted his ver­sion, say­ing the trio had only re­ceived bail af­ter sev­eral court ap­pear­ances.

“Ac­cused no 3 [Danti] has in­formed me that he could not hear you at the po­lice sta­tion,” he told Mankun­ty­wana while cross-ex­am­in­ing him. But Mankun­ty­wana, who had ear­lier re­vealed that he pos­sessed a ma­tric cer­tifi­cate and had at­tended sign lan­guage work­shops, re­torted that at Efata they did not need pro­fes­sional qual­i­fi­ca­tions to be able to in­ter­act with their pupils.

“We learn it from them,” he said. Dingiswayo also re­vealed that his client had in­formed him that they only re­ceived bail around Fe­bru­ary 2016 while Mankun­ty­wana had been kicked out by the court, as the ac­cused were un­able to un­der­stand what he was say­ing.

The case has been post­poned to Au­gust 6 af­ter a wit­ness, ex­pected to take to the stand, left a note say­ing a child in the fam­ily was sick, the court was told.

No­tu­nunu said he was pro­vi­sion­ally post­pon­ing the case as he also needed to speak to the court man­ager about hav­ing more time in court to do “some work” on the case.

He de­scribed the case as fraught with chal­lenges, in­clud­ing the fact that the sign lan­guage in­ter­preter was re­sid­ing out of town, which meant the state had to make proper ar­range­ments for her.

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