Defence lawyers argue for ‘cannibal’ accused’s acquittal
THE defence believes that the three men who allegedly killed a woman in the socalled “cannibal” trial should be acquitted.
Closing arguments were yesterday wrapped up in the case of Nino Mbatha, Lungisani Magubane and Khayelihle Lamula. They are all charged with the murder of Zanela Hlatswayo. Mbatha faces additional charges of being in possession of her body parts.
The Pietermaritzburg high court has heard that it was Mbatha’s idea to kill the woman because his ancestors were “telling him that blood had to be spilled”. He chopped up her body parts and removed her organs.
The rest of her remains were thrown among some rocks.
When police went to Mbatha’s house, after he allegedly went to the station carrying a hand and leg, they found the woman’s organs in bottles.
Advocate Dianne Franklin, for Mbatha, tried hard to convince Judge Peter Olsen to find him not guilty on all the charges. She said the state witnesses who had testified were unreliable and did not corroborate each other.
Mbatha had made a statement to police about his role in the murder and took police to the place where Hlatswayo’s remains were found.
Although in court Mbatha denied what was said in the statement and that he took police to the remains, the court has accepted this evidence.
Attorney Valentine Marion, representing Magubane, and attorney Lauren Marais, for Lamula, both argued that the state did not produce evidence to corroborate the statements their clients made to police about the murder.
In addition, Marais added that while her client said in his statement that he drove the men and a woman to an isolated place, the state did not prove this woman was in fact Hlatswayo.
Also, in the statement he said he was not present when the woman was killed.
The state on the other hand has argued that there is overwhelming evidence to convict the men as charged.
Judgment takes place next week.