‘Last chance’ as ANC murder accused gets new lawyer

The pair had been charged with stock theft. Photo: Supplied

The new attorney of the man accused of murdering an African National Congress official in KwaZulu-Natal gave an undertaking at the Durban High Court yesterday that his client’s matter would proceed without any further delays when it commences next year on the set trial date.

The trial of Xolani Zulu, who is accused of gunning down S’bu Sibiya on July 11, 2011, in Inanda, north of Durban, has been set down for March 17 to March 28, 2014.

Sibiya, who was the African National Congress’ eThekwini regional secretary, was shot dead outside his home after returning from his office in Durban.

Judge Shermaine Balton had on September 30 warned Zulu that if he had failed to confirm his legal representative yesterday he would have to conduct his own defence when the trial commenced next year.

Balton had provisionally adjourned Zulu’s matter to yesterday for him to confirm his legal representative, following a string of delays that arose from Zulu’s legal representation problems. Zulu had on two previous court appearances arrived in court without legal representation, citing communication breakdown between him and his new lawyer.

His previous lawyer, Bongani Cele, had on September 2 successfully applied for leave to withdraw from representing him after he was not paid legal costs on time.

Zulu’s new attorney, Nkanyiso Maphumulo, yesterday promised the court the matter would now proceed without further interruptions.

Maphumulo told Judge King Ndlovu he is ready for the start of the much anticipated trial because he now has all the relevant documents pertaining to the case. “The matter should have proceeded on the last occasion, but we were only instructed on that very same date,” said Maphumulo.

Judge Ndlovu said: “There’s a perception from the people who are close to the deceased that the accused was deliberately delaying the trial. Such delays should be avoided in all courts. Courts are there to ensure the balance of fairness between all the parties involved.”

Sihle Zikalala, KZN provincial secretary for the ANC, told The Citizen that regardless of the delays in Sibiya’s trial, his party would still attend court proceedings until the trial concludes next year.

“We are certainly not happy about the delays in the trial, but we would be here until the end,” he said outside the court. eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo and manager Sibusiso Sithole also attended the proceedings.

Zulu is out on extended bail.

today in print

today in print