The trial-within-a-trial continued in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.
A state witness faced tough questions in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial as the defence raised the possibility of her persuading the accused into making a confession.
Magistrate Vivian Cronje was cross-examined by the defence in the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Friday.
A trial-within-a-trial is being held to determine whether the alleged confession statements of accused one, Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya, and accused two, Bongani Ntanzi could be admitted as evidence in the main trial.
This week, Cronje testified that when she took Ntanzi’s confession in an office at the Vosloorus Magistrate’s Court in June 2020, his lawyer, Dominic Ntokozo Mjiyako, and an interpreter were present.
The magistrate told the court Ntanzi was cool and calm, with no visible injuries when he gave his confession.
Ntanzi, according to his answers on the pro forma, stated that he had not been assaulted or influenced by any person to make the confession.
Each page of the pro forma document and the actual confession statement was signed by Cronje, Ntanzi and the interpreter.
Th defence, however, has claimed the confession statement was made under duress.
During proceedings, Advocate Thulani Mngomezulu grilled Cronje about her line of questioning to Ntanzi when he made the statement.
Cronje insisted that the pro forma, which is a document that has to be completed before a confession is made, and the confession statement was done voluntarily.
But Mngomezulu highlighted that the form did not use the words “freely and fairly”.
“There was a line of questions that was put to the deponent and as a result of that I, as a magistrate, satisfied myself that the statement or the confession that was made was done freely and voluntarily,” Cronje responded.
The advocate questioned why Cronje introduced herself as a magistrate because this may have made Ntanzi “comfortable” to answering questions.
“Does that not constitute inducement?” the advocate asked.
“I put it to you that the pro forma, on the face value of it, had patent defect. It has an element of inducement… if you say you are a magistrate that means already you sway the impulse of the deponent. Do you agree?” Mngomezulu said.
“No,” the witness replied.
Mngomezulu further said the fact that the pro forma states that Ntanzi would be “afforded protection against any irregularities” suggested that the accused could have taken such as “a promise” and, therefore, led him into making a statement.
“Is that not a promise,” the advocate asked.
Cronje said this could be “misconstrued” as a promise.
Watch the trial below:
‘Lawyer wasn’t present’
Earlier, Mngomezulu grilled Cronje about her failure to make copies of Mjiyako’s appointment certificate and his Fidelity Fund Certificate (FFC) to attach the documents to Ntanzi’s confession statement.
Cronje argued Ntanzi himself confirmed that the “gentleman in a suit” was his legal representative.
“This was said to me by the deponent and [Mjiyako’s certificates] were shown to me so I satisfied myself that he was indeed his lawyer. If there is now this allegation from yourself [he] was not a lawyer or an attorney or that he was never there or misled me as the presiding officer then of course it is incumbent upon the state to call this person to come before court,” she said.
Mngomezulu told the magistrate that Ntanzi claims he did not have a lawyer at the time.
“He does not even know Mjiyako,” the advocate said.
Cronje, in her response, said Ntanzi wasn’t “telling the truth” if that’s the case. She pointed out that the interpreter was a witness to the whole interaction.
“I find it strange that the deponent in this instance would then say otherwise,” the magistrate said.
Mngomezulu asked Cronje whether she afforded Ntanzi an opportunity to consult with his lawyer prior to the confession being taken.
“The answer to your question is short and sweet, it was done,” Cronje said.
The witness said Mjiyako’s details and his FFC number was written on Ntanzi’s confession so he was traceable.
She said Ntanzi initiated the process of taking his confession.