Cape Town – A legal expert believes that restarting the Senzo Meyiwa trial will not compromise the case in any way.
According to News24, Letlhogonolo Mokgoroane, an advocate at the Centre for Legal Studies, said that the same witnesses would give the evidence they previously provided in court.
Mokgoroane said that even though the accused and witnesses had already heard the evidence, it did not mean they will change their testimony.
The trial will begin anew, with witnesses testifying again without providing new evidence.
“The trial has to start de novo (anew) like in this case. It simply means that it starts from the beginning, and all the witnesses that have testified will have to testify again, but that doesn’t mean they can give new evidence.
“Their testimony will remain the same. They will have to say the same things they said during the initial trial before the previous judge,” the report quoted Mokgoroane as saying.
Mokgoroane acknowledged that some witnesses may experience secondary trauma during their testimony, especially when identifying the suspect who pulled the trigger.
The trial was delayed when the presiding officer, Judge Tshifhiwa Maumela, fell ill.
At the end of last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended Judge Maumela and Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi for failing to deliver reserved judgments in a timely manner.
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In a statement, the Presidency said the investigation will centre on the two judges’ alleged “excessive delays… in handing down a significant number of judgments”.
“On 26 January 2023, the Judicial Service Commission accepted a recommendation of the Judicial Conduct Committee that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the judges were guilty of misconduct in delaying the handing down of a significant number of judgments.
“The Commission decided the matter should be referred to the Judicial Conduct Tribunal for investigation.
“At its meeting of 20 April 2023, the Judicial Service Commission took a decision to advise the President to suspend Justice Maumela and Justice Mngqibisa-Thusi pending a tribunal process envisaged in Section 19(1) of the Judicial Service Commission Act, 1994 (Act No.9 of 1994),” the statement read.
The trial is set to resume on July 17 with a new judge, Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, reportedly taking over the case.
The family of Senzo Meyiwa expressed confidence in the new judge, believing he will ensure a swift and just trial.
According to Sunday World, Meyiwa’s brother Sfiso said he had done some fact-finding about Mokgoatlheng
“We as the family are not worried because we believe our prayers have been answered, the case is in the right hands now,” the report quoted Sfiso as saying.
“I have done some research about this judge and discovered that he is someone who doesn’t take nonsense.
“He has prosecuted one of the corrupt cops [in the country], he is someone who doesn’t waste time. We believe he will avoid delays as much as he can. All we want is justice and he has been doing that in his previous cases.”
However, the Office of the Chief Justice has not yet confirmed the appointment of a new judge.
Compiled by Betha Madhomu