The murder trial of former ANC Youth League official Patrick Wisani got off to a dramatic start in the South Gauteng High Court in Randburg yesterday when he said he would be representing himself after parting ways with a third lawyer.
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Wisani is accused of beating his girlfriend, Nosipho Mandleleni, 24, to death in September last year.
Judge Mohamed Ismail warned Wisani several times about the ramifications of his decision, asking him repeatedly if he was sure he did not want another Legal Aid lawyer, but Wisani confidently declined, saying he would defend himself.
Wisani also faces two counts of assault for allegedly beating up his girlfriend’s twin sister and her friend outside a nightclub in May this year. He also allegedly threatened to kill his deceased girlfriend’s sister if she did not drop the murder charge against him and and if she stood as a witness against him in court.
Taking the witness stand were Siphokazi Mandleleni, Wisani’s late girlfriend’s twin sister, the trio’s housemate, Zukiswa Solani, and Wisani’s ex-girlfriend, Zimbini Mathibe, who was also allegedly assaulted by Wisani during the second incident. Solani and Mandleleni’s account of events suggested that both witnesses heard Nosipho screaming and crying at about 4am.
Solani said she had opened her door, heard Wisani and his girlfriend arguing in their room and then went back to sleep. Mandleleni said she had woken up at 4am, heard her sister screaming and crying and knocked on their door.
According to her, Wisani opened it with a bloodied broomstick in his hand. She said she had told Wisani to stop beating her sister and he had replied that he would not do it again. Mandleleni said she had then gone back to sleep.
Several hours later she got a phone call, saying her sister had died. During Wisani’s cross-examination of Siphokazi Mandleleni, he put it to her that he was not at home at the time of the incident. He questioned the witness’s certainty about who she had seen at his door.
Prosecutor Faghre Mohamed then called Wisani’s ex-girlfriend to the stand, who testified that she and Mandleleni were slapped, beaten and kicked by Wisani.