The family of Palesa Madiba, the University of Johannesburg student, who was found dead after being missing for more than two years, says the constant court postponements have taken a toll on them. On Monday, the case was again postponed in the Johannesburg High Court, after the attorney of the accused failed to arrive in court.
Madiba’s body was discovered buried in a shallow grave at the accused’s home in Soweto in December 2015. She had been reported missing two years earlier after visiting a friend, who is the niece of the accused.
During proceedings, Presiding Judge Prince Manyathi asked the accused, Dumisani Mkhwanazi, where his lawyer was. He said he didn’t know and suggested that the judge ask his niece, Tshidi Mkhwanazi, who was seated in the public gallery.
During last week’s court appearance, Dominic Thinane, the lawyer for the accused, had indicated his intention to withdraw from the case, saying he had not been paid. The judge had given Mkhwanazi until Monday to consult with his lawyer.
However, after the judge summoned Tshidi forward, she told the court that she had not been able to meet Thinane to pay him his outstanding legal fees.
The judge asked if the accused wanted Legal Aid after Tshidi indicated that the lawyer had not received half of the money due to him.
The visibly irritated Judge Manyathi said that he had already postponed the matter several times, adding that Madiba’s family have a right to a speedy trial. He asked Tshidi to look for Thinane.
“And Madam, you have to go and get Mr Thinane. Whether you phone each other or not, I am not interested in those particular issues. Make sure that you get Mr Thinane. If Mr Thinane is not here by Wednesday, I am going to set a trial date and you are running the risk of conducting this matter on your own because you don’t want Legal Aid. You want Mr Thinane, it’s your right.”