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MBABANE – The trial of the two royal aides, who allegedly stole jewellery worth E800 000 at Nkoyoyo Royal Palace, is not open to members of the public.

The accused persons are Nokulunga ‘Zambane’ Simelane (35) of Ntondozi and Zandile Malinga (33) of Fonteyn. Yesterday, the High Court granted an order that the matter be heard in camera. The order was granted by Judge Nkosinathi Maseko. When a matter is heard in camera, it means that it is conducted in private and members of the public and the press are not allowed to attend. In camera is used in sensitive cases to protect the privacy of the parties. The application for the matter to be heard in private was moved by Principal Crown Counsel Ncamsile Masuku. The purpose of the application, according to Masuku, was that some of the exhibits were private and she also cited security reasons. Simelane’s legal representative, Mpendulo Dlamini, told the court that he was hearing such an application for the first time and requested to consult with his client. Judge Maseko adjourned the proceedings to give him time to consult Simelane.

Before the adjournment, Judge Maseko explained the nature of the application to Malinga, who is conducting her own defence in the matter. The judge informed her that the Crown had applied that the proceedings be closed to members of the public and only the accused persons, lawyers and court officials should be present during the trial. The court reconvened and the application by the Crown was granted. Worth noting is that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Phila Dlamini, was present in court. One of the accused persons, Malinga, pleaded guilty to the charge of theft while Simelane tendered a plea of not guilty. The matter was postponed to tomorrow. Simelane and Malinga were employed as royal aides based at the palace. They were both charged with theft.

According to the charge sheet, they allegedly committed the offence during the month of January 2020. The allegedly stolen items included two gold Jacobs watches valued at E400 000, a Jacobs necklace valued at E100 000, a Jacobs ring valued at E100 000, Swarovski bracelet valued at E50 000, Swarovski necklace valued at E50 000, a pair of earrings valued at E50 000 and Swarovski necklace valued at E50 000. The items are said to have been in the lawful possession of Phangisile Mngometulu. One of the witnesses to be paraded by the Crown, Mncedisi Tsabedze, in a statement made under oath, stated that he was present when the jewellery was allegedly sold in the Republic of South Africa. He disclosed how he got involved in the deal, how much each item was sold for in the neighbouring country and to whom, including the amount each of them received. The veracity of these allegations is still to be tested in court.

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