Home News Man wrongfully arrested for Meyiwa’s murder sues for R21m

Man wrongfully arrested for Meyiwa’s murder sues for R21m

Man wrongfully arrested for Meyiwa’s murder sues for R21m

THE man who was wrongfully arrested and detained for 13 days in connection with the murder of former Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain, Senzo Mewiya, has been given a green light to sue the state.

Zamokuhle Innocent Mbatha is suing the National Prosecutor Authority (NPA), Police Minister Bheki Cele, and two other officers for more than R21-million. And the matter has been put on the court roll for July next year.

Although Cele was not the minister at the time when Mbatha was arrested, he has been included in the lawsuit because he is the current police minister.

Mbatha’s lawyer, Mxolisi Ndwandwe, confirmed to Sunday Independent this week that the matter had finally been put on the roll for July 18, 2023 after more than eight years of “ducking and diving by the state”.

“We finally going to court after years of ducking and diving by the state, going back and forth for unnecessary reasons. My client was wrongfully arrested and humiliated but instead of acknowledging their mistakes, the state has been sending us from pillar to post.” Ndwandwe said.

A senior police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, on Friday said the state must pay Mbatha and apologise for their “embarrassing mistake” instead of wasting more money by going to defend their gross error in court.

“We as the police f***ed up big time in this case, they must pay this guy what is due to him instead of wasting more, in legal fees and whatnot,” the officer said.

Mbatha was arrested four days after Mewiya was shot and killed at his then girlfriend’s mother’s house in Vosloorus on October 26, 2014 when a police identity kit was released with a dreadlocked man identified as one of the suspects.

Mewiya was dating singer, Kelly Khumalo, at the time and the musician was in the house when the soccer star was shot.

Mewiya’s two childhood friends, Tumelo Madlala and Mthokozisi Twala, were also in the house along with Longwe Twala and his then girlfriend, Zandile, who is Khumalo’s younger sister.

The Khumalos’ mother, Getrude, and musician’s two children were also in the house when the shooting happened.

Five men from KwaZulu-Natal, some of them well-known hitmen, were arrested two years ago for Mewiya’s murder and their trial is ongoing at the Pretoria High Court.

Muzi Sibiya, Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi, Mthobisi Prince Mncube, Mthokoziseni Ziphozonnke Maphisa, and Sifisokuhle Ntuli pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, possession of firearms without a licence, and possession of ammunition.

When Mbatha was arrested in 2014, then head of detectives, Lieutenant-General Vinesh Monoo, said police were sure that they had “one of the suspects involved in the incident”.

“We are confident he (Mbatha) is linked to the crime and he will be charged with murder and robbery.” Monoo said after Mbatha’s arrest.

In his court papers, seen by Sunday Independent, Mbatha says he was “wrongfully and unlawfully arrested and detained, and was required to appear in the Boksburg Magistrate’s Court from time to time until the charges were withdrawn”.

Among Mbatha’s claims are R2.5m for malicious prosecution and additional R5m for defamation as he was labelled him as “a criminal who had murdered Meyiwa” when he was arrested on October 29, 2014, which impaired on his “integrity, dignity and self-esteem”.

Mbatha is suing for a total of R10m with 15.5% annual interest since the day the lawsuit was filed in April 2015 and amount comes to more than R21m to date.

When Mbatha was arrested, the Khumalos failed to tell the police that he was one of their neighbours who often washed Meyiwa’s car when the soccer star and his girlfriend were visiting her mother.

Mbatha even came to their house to pass his condolences after Meyiwa was killed.

He was working at the local car wash and lost his job after the arrest because everyone in the community thought he was a criminal and a murderer. His wife went into a depression and was hospitalised.

Mbatha believes he was arrested because he had dreadlocks and one of the police suspects, according to the police identity kit, also had dreadlocks.

Mbatha on Friday told Sunday Independent that no amount of money would wash away the humiliation he suffered and the stigma attached to his name “as a murderer of a soccer legend”.

“There is no reason for me to be happy about the latest developments, I will only celebrate the day the real person who killed Senzo is found guilty and sent to jail,” he said.

A neighbour who is sympathetic to Mbatha suggested that the police wanted to use him as a scapegoat for a high profile case they were struggling to solve. “They saw a poor black man who has no resources and vulnerable, and they wanted to use him as a scapegoat and it backfired so badly.

“I won’t be surprised (others) are also innocent and victims of police incompetence,” the neighbour said.

The trial of the five men accused of killing Meyiwa was adjourned on Friday after one of the soccer star’s friends, Tumelo Madlala, who was in the house when the Orlando Pirates goalkeeper was shot, finished with his cross examination.

The trial is expected to resume again tomorrow where a new witness, believed to be Meyiwa’s other childhood friend, Mthokozisi Twala, takes the stand.

NPA spokesperson, Bulelwa Makeke, said they were aware of the lawsuit and that matter would be ventilated in court.

Police spokesperson, Colonel Athlenda Mathe, said they had not received the notice for the court date.

“The SAPS has not as yet received the set down notice and in addition this is a matter pending before the court and as such we decline to comment,” Mathe said.

Sunday Independent

Original Article