On Tuesday, the 29-year-old Onke Hartin Mashinini, who stands accused of kidnapping and murdering the three-year-old Liyaqat ‘Lee’ Mentoor, took to the stand in the High Court in Johannesburg to testify, Roodepoort Record reports.
Before he was called to testify, Mashinini’s ex-wife, as well as the victim of the armed robbery, were called to the stand. According to family representative Estelle Delport, Mashinini’s ex-wife told a story of the pain and abuse she endured.
“She talked about rape, assault, and injustice by the police. The defence tried to turn her testimony around, and make it look like she was lying, but she stood her ground.”
The victim of the armed robbery also appeared in the dock and shared a tale of her traumatic experience of being tied up with shoelaces, together with her then seven-year-old son, by a neighbour and being robbed at gunpoint.
The DNA results were also cross-examined, and it was confirmed that there were traces of Lee’s blood on the swabs taken at the accused’s home.
When Mashinini took the stand, he painted a picture of a loving boyfriend who accepted Lee as his own; he also stated that his relationship with Kaylah Mentoor, Lee’s mother, was perfect and they never argued or fought. He claimed that his mother accepted and loved Lee as if he was her own grandchild.
“I had to go to the Taxify offices to have my app on my phone unblocked. I had Lee with me that day, as he was sick. Kaylah told me that I needed to drop him off at his grandmother’s house at 5pm, but, when I left to go to the Taxify offices, I decided to go past his grandmother’s house to see if she was there. I thought it would be easier to drop him off there than to take him with me.
“As I arrived at the house, I saw a car parked in the driveway. Upon my arrival, a woman climbed out, and Lee ran to her and hugged her leg. She introduced herself as Vanessa, and said she was Kaylah’s aunt. She then offered to take Lee with them, as she said they were on their way to pick Lee’s grandmother up from work.”
He also denied having any knowledge of Lee’s murder, and said that he had not, to date, heard anything about the child’s whereabouts. When asked about the blood spatter found in the bathroom, he claimed that it happened when he brushed his teeth.
“My mouth bled because of the pressure I put on my gums while brushing.”
Mashinini also denied the allegations made by his ex-wife and said he had never assaulted or raped her, as she had dropped all the charges against him.
He shocked the court when he stated: “I am not perfect, I am not Jesus Christ … but I follow him.”
He denied having any knowledge of the charges against him, stating that he could not recall any of the cases. When shown photos of the evidence found in his home by the police, he said he had no memory of it ever being found.
The state prosecutor then took over and cross-examined Mashinini, but the court was adjourned shortly thereafter. The trial continues today, September 11.
Delport had the following to say: “Mashinini is adamant that ‘Vanessa’ took Lee, and he didn’t deem it necessary to contact Kaylah, as Lee seemed to know this woman. Lee looked at this woman the same way he looks at his mother and grandmother so Onke felt it was okay. He apologised for being careless in not calling Kaylah after his defence attorney questioned him on it, and also said Lee had not been murdered, but he did not know where he was.
“He even offered to assist with finding Lee. But, he was very detailed on certain events and things that occurred. Those in court heard how he does not like gay people or people who rob others. His so-called friends were not friends, and he claimed that he does not speak any vernacular language, even though in the beginning, he needed a translator as his English was not that good. He showed no remorse, even though he apologised. Is this just to get off? Where is our baby?”
The trial continues.