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SIPHO TRIAL: BIG NAMES ON WITNESS LIST

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image Murder suspect Sipho Shongwe in court. (File pic)

MBABANE – Big names for Sipho Shongwe murder trial. Some of the country’s who’s who form part of the witnesses the State will rely on to prove its case against Shongwe.


Shongwe stands accused of the murder of astute businessman and football administrator Victor Gamedze.The Crown’s list of witnesses consists of chief executive officers (CEOs) of some of the country’s prestigious companies, well-known businesspeople from both Mbabane and Manzini, top lawyers, socialites,  football coaches and administrators, among others.


In total, the State will parade 33 witnesses while Shongwe indicated that he will bring only four people to assist him in his endeavour to prove his innocence.


Media


The names of the State’s witnesses will not be disclosed, as there is a court order barring the media from revealing their identities.
The director of public prosecution (DPP) yesterday issued subpoenas to all the Crown witnesses, calling upon them to avail themselves during the trial date. A subpoena is a document ordering a person to attend court. It can be used to compel their attendance.


Shongwe’s trial will resume on Tuesday before Judge Mbutfo Mamba. Social media is already abuzz with some users expressing their desire to attend what they described as the trial of the century.
Others expressed their relief that Shongwe will finally know his fate.


Another user expressed her wish to see the top South African advocates pitted against each other during the trial.
Meanwhile, two of the State witnesses, who are South African nationals, will testify through remote participation. Remote participation is when a witness in another country gives or presents his evidence through utilisation of Audio Visual links (AVL)


The request was granted by the office of the registrar of the High Court after consulting with the chief justice.
This was after the DPP filed a request to allow the two crucial witnesses to testify through the use of the AVL. The request by the Crown came after the two State witnesses reportedly expressed their fear to physically come and testify during the trial. 

The DPP stated that due to the circumstances beyond his control, for security reasons, the two witnesses could not come to the Kingdom of Eswatini. The DPP pointed out that the only way the two witnesses could give evidence was through the Remote Participation, as provided for by the Act.


The Crown filed the request to allow the duo to testify through the AVL in terms the Remote Participation Act of 2018,
The Act allows for participation in proceedings by AVL. It may be used to link any participant in the proceedings, meaning a person who is party, a witness, counsel or any other person involved who is allowed to appear in this way.


Information gathered from impeccable sources is that Shongwe’s legal team intends to challenge the usage of the AVL during the trial. 
“They will challenge the decision to allow the two State witnesses who are South African nationals to testify through the utilisation of the AVL. They will, however, disclose their position on Tuesday,” said the source.
The Crown indicated that it would furnish the defence with three video footages and audio. It also disclosed that it would provide Shongwe’s legal team with the post-mortem report.


Cellphone


Also to be given to the defence attorneys are cellphone records and forensic analysis and a copy of the extradition application.
The identities of the two South African nationals who are witnesses in the matter and the other three will remain unknown to Shongwe until the date of the trial.
This is so because, Judge Nkululeko Hlophe, previously dismissed his application to be provided with names and address of the five witnesses.
The identities of the five were concealed in the statements he had been provided with by the Crown.


These witnesses are identified as A, B, C, D and E in their statements for their safety, according to the Crown.
It is yet to be determined how the witnesses will be concealed when the trial resumes next Tuesday.
Shongwe is alleged to have had a hand in the gunning down of Gamedze on January 14, 2018 while he was at Galp Filling Station in Ezulwini.

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