Trial of woman cop killers nears end

PREMIUM

Cellphone records and an alleged confession by a man accused of orchestrating his policewoman wife’s murder should be enough to convict him and his five co-accused, the state claimed on Monday during closing arguments in the Port Elizabeth High Court.
Prosecutor Marius Stander said the frequency of cellphone calls and the pattern of communication between the six men pointed to their guilt.
Mlungisi Tsitsi, 37, Sicelo Mbanga, 31, Thembani Rorwana, 34, Ndiphe Soqokomashe, 48, Msindisi Bhebhula, 27, and Luyanda Nyumka, 38, are accused of the November 12 2015 murder of Nomathamsanqa Ivy Mtwesi, 36, who was stationed at the Zwide police station.
They have all pleaded not guilty.
It is alleged that Tsitsi had arranged the hit on his estranged wife following allegations that she was having an affair.
In the early hours of November 12 2015, Mtwesi was followed home from the Zwide police station.
She was shot dead in her car by two gunmen as she arrived at her home.
All six men have been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Stander alleged that Tsitsi had confessed to plotting his wife’s murder in a statement given to police after his arrest.
In the statement, Tsitsi implicates at least two of his co-accused, with the state relying on cellphone records as evidence against the others.
“[Tsitsi] approached [Soqokomashe to plan the murder], then comes the question of ‘they’.
“There must have been other role-players involved.
“We have [Tsitsi], who explains he was the one who planned the murder.
“[Tsitsi] says: ‘It was my plan to have [Mtwesi] killed but I was not the one who executed the offence’,” Stander said.
It was important that the state did not only rely on the statement given by Tsitsi but on other evidence obtained in the investigation as well as the evidence before court, he said.
“There needs to be frequency of communications between the accused leading up to the day of the murder.
“Once the frequency is determined, then it is important to look at the movement of particular cellphones [in specific areas] – if this doesn’t show up then that phone or person is not linked to the state’s case.”
Detailed cellphone records obtained by the state showed how the accused communicated with each other in the days leading up to the murder and placed at least three of them at the murder scene.
Stander said it was the state’s case that Tsitsi had approached Soqokomashe with the plan to kill his wife.
Soqokomashe then made contact with Rorwana, who allegedly arranged the shooters, Mbanga and Nyumka.
According to cellphone records on the day of the murder, Mbanga and Nyumka were at the home of Rorwana, where they met Bhebhula.
The state alleges Bhebhula was the driver who took the two alleged shooters first to the Zwide police station, where they waited for Mtwesi to leave work, then followed her home where she was shot dead.
“[Rorwana] was a kingpin in arranging and facilitating this murder.
“[Mbanga and Nyumka] were fetched from his home and taken back there,” Stander alleged.
A statement obtained from Bhebhula and submitted as evidence in the trial stated that he was merely the transporter of the alleged shooters and had no active involvement in the actual shooting of Mtwesi.
“[Bhebhula’s] evidence should be rejected in totality,” Stander said.
Stander said the evidence led by Soqokomashe should also be rejected by the court because of his demeanour during cross-examination.
“[Soqokomashe] must be the worst witness I have ever cross-examined.
“He was arrogant and the most evasive witness I have ever come across, because his version makes no sense.”
Stander said none of the accused gave any explanation for the frequency of communications between them or the patterns thereof.
“The state’s version of events [considering the frequency and pattern of communications] is not contested by the defence,” he said.
The case continues...

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