FRANCISTOWN: The trial of Nthoiwa Maxala, who allegedly murdered Thuso Mulaladzi gangster style in 2015, commenced in earnest at the High Court this week.
Maxala allegedly killed Mulaladzi, a former Physics teacher at Tutume McConnell College, on September 13, 2015 at Somerset East location in Francistown.
Maxala, 36, was initially charged along with Tshoganetso Maxala, 25, Thabani Manala, 31, Tsaone Sedimo, 31, Unaludo Madumba, 30, Obonetse Sedimo, 31 and Robert McPherson Gaogakwe, 52.
However, when the case appeared before Justice Gaolapelwe Ketlogetswe last year in August, the State filed nolle prosequi papers (unwilling to prosecute or do not prosecute) against Tshoganetso, Manala, Sedimo, Madumba, Sedimo, and Gaogakwe, which effectively meant that only Maxala would be tried for the offence.
When the trial commenced before Justice Matlhogonolo Phuthego on Wednesday, the prosecution team comprising Kgomotso Tshekiso and Onneile Selawa asked for a brief adjournment for housekeeping purposes concerning some witnesses and exhibits.
The defence attorney Reneetswe Rabosotho confirmed what the prosecution said.
He said: “We confirm that the defence admits the evidence of Theresa Mulaladzi and Thabo Mulaladzi (mother and brother of the deceased respectively). We also admit the evidence of Masego Office (the forensic scientist who was dealing with the firearm) and his associated exhibits, and Dr Shathani Mugoma. We, however, had a challenge with Office’s evidence and the exhibits he examined.”
The first prosecution witness, Mulaladzi’s former friend Letang Letang, told the court when being led by the prosecution that he started getting to know Maxala after he saw him at Borolong village in September 2015.
“I was at Satellite shops when I received a call from Thuso who told me that he was being assaulted at Borolong. Alongside my friends, Dumo Luhle and Goitseone Sefalana, we proceeded to Borolong and found a car parked behind Thuso’s car at Masa’s yard. Masa was Thuso’s girlfriend,” Letang said.
He added: “When we arrived at Masa’s house, we found that Masa’s mother had locked Thuso inside the house. Thuso got outside the house after we arrived. Masa was in a silver Pajero car that was parked behind Thuso’s car. The Pajero was blocking Thuso from driving his car away. Masa was inside the Pajero.”
Letang continued: “Thuso managed to take Masa out of the Pajero. Thereafter, we had a misunderstanding with the driver of the Pajero (Nthoiwa). Myself, Luhle and Sefalana ended up fighting Nthoiwa. Thuso later stopped us from fighting Nthoiwa.”
Letang added that they later left for Francistown and upon arrival, Mulaladzi asked him and Luhle to accompany him to Tutume.
“…We went to Engen Filling Station at Game Mall to fuel Thuso’s car. After Thuso fuelled his car, we found that a Pajero car similar to the one we left at Borolong was following us… We left the filling station but the Pajero was still trailing us. We then went to Somerset East and reached a cul de sac then entered a certain yard. Upon arrival at the said unknown yard, two men alighted from the Pajero.
“One of them asked us if we knew what he was holding. While we were still standing outside the car, we then heard a sound similar to a gunshot. We ran away. I did not see who the men were. Thuso was behind us and we did not know what happened to him,” Letang said.
“We later came back to the yard where we left Thuso,” Letang noted, but found the police and a lot of people inside the yard.
“Thuso was lying motionless on the ground and was covered with a white sheet…”
When under cross-examination from Rabosotho, Letang said that prior to September 13 in 2015, he did not know Maxala.
“When Thuso phoned us to come to him at Borolong I was with Sefalana and Luhle drinking alcohol at Satellite shops… We merely assaulted Nthoiwa because his Pajero car was parking behind Thuso’s car and was obstructing him to move. Yes I confirm that we assaulted a stranger just because his car was parking behind Thuso’s car…” Letang said.
Another State witness, sergeant Kelebale Montshosi said on September 13, 2015, he received a call from Merry Mokowe saying that Mulaladzi was assaulting her younger sister, Masa Shoto, at Masa’s mother’s place at Borolong.
“I went to Masa’s mother’s place and found Masa crying in pain. Since I did not have transport, I asked people I found in the yard to take her to the local clinic
Under cross-examination from Rabosotho, Montshosi refuted that Maxala had reported a case of assault to him at Borolong police post.
Tshokologo Bundu testified that while sleeping at her place at Somerset East around 11pm on September 13, 2015, she heard a sound similar to a gunshot.
“I woke up my husband, Eric after I heard the sound. I did not get out of the house, but I was surprised to see a green Corolla car parked inside my yard… When I looked outside of the house through one of the small spaces in the door, I also saw another car, which looked like a white Prado car leaving my yard… I later got out of the house and found a person lying on the ground bleeding. I did not go near that person… The police later came and took that person away,” Bundu said.
Rabosotho then said that he had no questions for Bundu when it was his time to cross-examine her.
Another State witness, detective sergeant Chenamani Fox stated that he came to know the accused after his boss, detective assistant Superintendent Lynn Agang, told him about a murder case that had happened in Somerset East at around 11:30pm on September 13, 2015.
“… I later went to the scene and found a middle-aged man lying lifeless in a pool of blood on the ground. I realised that he had a big wound on his back. Then I heard a rumour that he had been shot by people in a white Pajero car.
We took the person to Nyangabgwe Referral Hospital, but the doctors certified him dead upon our arrival at the hospital. He was later identified as Thuso Duncan Mulaladzi. At Nyangabgwe, I met other police officers from Tatitown police station who told us that prior to his death, he had a fight with someone in Borolong,” Fox said.
Fox went on: “… This then aroused suspicion that the now accused person is the suspect in the death of Thuso. Agang then assembled a team of police officers, which I was a part of, to go to Borolong to look for the accused. After we arrived at Borolong, I found out that the accused had earlier on during the day opened a case of assault against the deceased. I then devised a strategy to arrest the accused by calling him to come to Borolong police post telling him that some vital information was missing from the assault case that he had reported.”
“The accused arrived that night driving the white Pajero car. He was in company of Tshoganetso Maxala. I arrested them and told them the reason why I was arresting them. I later searched their car to look for the firearm and ammunition that was allegedly used to kill the deceased, but I found nothing. I asked Nthoiwa where the gun was and he told me that it was with Thabani Manala.
Because it was late at night, I decided that it was risky to go and look for the gun from Manala. I then handed the accused and Tshoganetso to Agang for preliminary investigation and thereafter they were detained in Francistown.
The following morning on September 14, we took them to Borolong where we recovered the firearm from Manala,” Fox said.
We then arrested Manala whom we found in the company of Unaludo Madumba, Fox added.
“I then questioned Manala about the gun and he told me that he had kept it at Madumba’s house… I took Manala to Madumba’s house and I later found the gun dismantled inside a bag at Madumba’s house… Agang then took over the investigation,” Fox said.
Asked by Rabosotho if he knew the gun’s serial number, Fox responded: “I don’t know the gun’s serial number because whenever we were carrying out the investigations, I was with the investigations officer who is privy to such information”.
The case continues next week.