Sparks flew in the Libode Magistrate’s Court yesterday when defence lawyer Nelson Nombambela, who is representing three people accused of murdering 10-year-old Liyema Dutywa, accused the investigating officer of “manufacturing evidence” against his clients.
On Wednesday, Hawks investigating officer detective constable Simlindile Skwatsha had told the court that Liyema’s biological father, Fuzile Hanise, 30, his fiancee Asanda Mbhele, 23, and his Walter Sisulu University student friend Manduleli Majova, 27, had preplanned the murder of the young victim found dead in a forest near Tsolo on June 9.
It is the state’s case that Liyema had been abducted from her school in Misty Mount by the three earlier in the day before killing her.
The gruesome murder was allegedly over claims by Hanise that his daughter and her mother, Zintle Dutywa, had bewitched Mbhele.
Skwatsha and state prosecutor Nomava Buso told the court this week that all three accused had made written confessions detailing how Hanise had suffocated Liyema with a plastic bag while Mbhele and Majova held her down.
When she did not die, Hanise allegedly shot her in the chest with a gun stolen from Mbhele’s estranged husband.
But lawyer Nombambela yesterday tore into Skwatsha, asking why the confession had not been taken to a magistrate.
“I have not heard you saying you approached the magistrate in Tsolo or any other district in South Africa to take a confession [to them].
“Do you know that a confession is not mere evidence by its production but it has to be proved in court that it was made by an accused person?”
Skwatsha replied that it was already late when they got to Tsolo on June 9 as it was after lunchtime.
Nombambela also accused the officer of fabricating claims that there were witnesses who were scared of the suspects should they be granted bail, and accused Skwatsha of trying to buy time to finish his investigation because he did not have a strong enough case against his clients.
He questioned why the accused had only been charged with murder and not also conspiracy to murder if they had preplanned it. “I put it to you that you have manufactured evidence and it is biased against the three accused.”
But Skwatsha insisted he had enough evidence against them.
“You want to prolong their stay in custody unjustifiably as if you still have more investigation to do. I put it to you that it is unreasonable,” charged Nombambela. But the officer stuck to his guns, saying he had no reason to want to keep them in custody except to keep some of his witnesses safe.
Skwatsha said should the three be released on bail they would pose a threat to witnesses staying in Sibangweni village, where both Hanise and Mbhele live.
As Nombambela was leaving the court shortly after 3pm yesterday, a group of women who had attended the case were heard shouting: Kusazofiwa nakowenu – loosely translated as: “You will also lose your loved ones one day.”