De­fence lawyers ar­gue for ‘can­ni­bal’ ac­cused’s ac­quit­tal

The Witness - - NEWS - SHARIKA REGCHAND

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.

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