Key witness in Lucky Dube murder trial threatened

Johannesburg – A witness wanted to give police information on the murder of reggae star Lucky Dube but was warned that she could be killed, the Johannesburg High Court heard on Wednesday.

Mpho Monareng, wife to Thabo Monareng who was arrested in connection with Dube’s murder but later released, said the morning before the men were arrested, she and her husband had a heated argument which turned physical.

They were at a garage in Norwood with one of the accused, Mbuti Mabe.

"I got very angry I told him I was going to inform the police about what they did. He took me to the side and warned me not to report the matter to the police because accused number one or two would kill him or me."

She said she and Mabe drove to Vosloorus then later met her husband in Alberton.

"We got there and me and Thabo drove back home to our complex and that’s when we found police.

"We were arrested and we took the police to Alberton where we had left accused number three (Mabe). He was blaming me for this, saying I had told the police."

When Mpho was asked why she had not reported the matter to the police, she said: "I had a lot on my mind."

Mabe, Sifiso Mhlanga and Julius Xowa, all in their thirties, are on trial for the murder of the musician outside his brother’s house in Rosettenville, southern Johannesburg, on October 13 2007.

They faced a charge of murder, two charges of aggravated robbery, one count of attempted aggravated robbery and two counts of the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

On Wednesday  a lawyer for one of the three men accused of murdering reggae star Lucky Dube was on Wednesday admonished in the Johannesburg High Court for insulting the integrity of a state witness and wasting the court’s time.

Judge Seun Moshidi reprimanded defence advocate Vuyo Jack for putting "vague" questions to Mpho Maruping, who on Tuesday gave a detailed account of Dube’s murder in her testimony.

Jack spent about two hours tediously cross-examining Maruping, focusing on how certain facts she mentioned to the police in her statement were absent from her testimony. State prosecutor Lethabo Mashiane objected to his questions three times, arguing that Maruping could not be expected to remember details of every conversation that she had since the incident. He pointed out that Jack had not found any contradictions in her testimony.

Moshidi lost his patience with Vuyo, saying: "Don’t waste our time with the technicalities."

The defence advocate further aggravated the judge when he, without proof, accused Maruping of being "coached and advised on what to say" in her statement. Moshidi demanded Jack specify who coached her, saying that his insinuation was an insult to the witness, the prosecution and the police.

Jack withdrew his statement and apologised to Moshidi. However, the judge would not relent.

"I am not letting this matter rest. I will take it up after the trial because it is a very serious and unfair allegation," Moshidi said.

Jack is representing accused Sifiso Mhlanga (32).

Shocking details

Mhlanga, Ludwa Gxowa (30) and Mbuti Mabe (29) are on trial for the murder of the reggae musician on October 18 2007. 
Maruping testified on Tuesday that her husband, Thabo Maruping — who was also arrested but released due to insufficient evidence — confessed his involvement in Dube’s hijacking to her and gave her details on how he was killed.

She said that her husband, Mhlanga, Gxowa and Mbuti were looking for a Chrysler to hijack on October 18 2007.

Dube was dropping off his son and daughter at his brother’s home on the night of October 18 2007 in Rosettenville when the men — excluding Thabo Maruping — attacked him and fired two bullets. The musician tried to drive off but crashed his car into a tree and died on the scene.

Maruping also said the alleged killers did not recognise Dube and thought he was a Nigerian.

Mhlanga, Gxowa and Mabe have pleaded not guilty to six charges, including robbery, murder, attempted robbery and illegal possession of firearms.

The trial continues on Thursday.

The trial continues.

– SAPA