THE HIGH COURT OF SWAZILAND
AT MBABANE CREW. CASE NO. 91/98
THE MATTER BETWEEN:
THE CROWN: MR. MASEKO
THE ACCUSED: MR. MDLULI
accused is charged with the murder of his grandfather at Sandleni
area on the 12th August 1997. When called upon to plead, the accused
pleaded guilty to culpable homicide. The crown did not accept this
plea and the case went to trial on the indictment as framed.
is common cause that the deceased died as a result of shock and
haemorrhage following a stab injury. The injury was to the left side
of the chest, with a penetration of the left lung. It is not in
dispute that the injury was inflicted by the accused with a vicious
looking double handled steel knife. The circumstances under which the
injury was inflicted are hotly contested.
witnesses gave evidence of the circumstances under which the stabbing
took place. These were John Ndlangamandla and Mangaliso Dlamini. Both
these witnesses were related to the deceased and the accused.
According to Ndlangamandla, there was a beer drink at the deceased's
homestead on the day in question. The beer was being served
the cooking hut. Several people including the witnesses were enjoying
the beer in the yard of the homestead. The deceased was seated next
to the witness Ndlangamandla. Ndlangamandla asked for some sugar to
add to the beer from the deceased. The deceased got up to fetch the
sugar from the cooking hut. The deceased disappeared from
Ndlangamandla's view. Shortly thereafter Ndlangamandla saw the
accused approaching from the upper end of the homestead. The accused
went in the direction taken by the deceased. The next thing that
happened was that Ndlangamandla heard Mangaliso Dlamini asking the
accused why he was stabbing the deceased. Ndlangamandla got up to
find out what was happening. He met with the deceased. The deceased
was holding the left side of his chest from which he was bleeding.
Ndlangamandla saw the accused running away from the homestead and the
deceased died in one of his huts shortly thereafter. Ndlangamandla
did not witness the actual stabbing.
to Mangaliso, the deceased entered the cooking hut and came out
carrying a small plastic dish with sugar. As the deceased was at the
doorstep the accused appeared and without saying a word, he stabbed
the deceased. The deceased held his chest and ran around the hut.
Mangaliso asked the accused why he had stabbed the deceased and in
response the accused advanced on Mangaliso before running away.
witnesses were briefly cross-examined. They denied that one Agnes
Simelane had informed the accused that he was being called by the
deceased, prior to the stabbing. Ndlangamandla and Mangaliso denied
that Agnes Simelane was present at the homestead at the relevant
accused gave a long account of the bitter relationship between him
and the deceased following the deceased's failure to account fully
for his (deceased's) administration of the accused's late father's
estate. The accused explained how his efforts to establish a home on
his late father's premises were frustrated by the deceased. He stated
that the deceased had approached him in the morning of the day in
question. The deceased had instructed him to vacate the house he was
occupying, as he (deceased) required the corrugated iron sheets that
were on the house. Later that morning, the accused states that he
went to the beer drink at the deceased's homestead, at the invitation
of one Boy Simelane. Whilst he was in the company of Boy, Agnes
Simelane came and informed him that the deceased wished to see him in
the cooking hut. The accused stated that he went to the deceased in
the cooking hut. The deceased repeated his earlier directive that the
accused should vacate the house. The accused told the court that he
informed the deceased that he was not prepared to vacate the house.
The deceased thereupon got hold of a stick and struck the accused.
The accused stated that he managed to ward off the blow and struggled
with the deceased for possession of the stick. In the process, the
deceased produced a knife. There was a struggle for possession of the
knife. The knife fell from the deceased and the accused stated that
he picked it up and ran out of the hut with the intention of running
away from the homestead.
was the accused's evidence that as he was leaving the homestead he
met with the deceased in front of one of the houses. It appeared to
him that the deceased had been chasing him. According to the accused
the deceased was carrying the small plastic dish
by the crown witnesses. At that stage the accused states that the
deceased raised the dish and he feared that the deceased would use
the dish to cover his (accused) face. It was the accused's evidence
that he then stabbed the deceased, intending only to scare him. He
explained that he accidentally applied too much force in delivering
Simelane was called to give evidence on behalf of the accused. She
confirmed having been at the beer drink at the deceased's homestead.
She further confirmed that she had been sent by the deceased to call
the accused. It was her evidence that she left the homestead
immediately after calling the accused and went to a neighbouring
homestead from where she later heard that the deceased had been
witness Mangaliso impressed me very much as an honest and reliable
witness. He, like Ndlangamandla, is an elderly and mature member of
his community. He is related to the accused. He gave a
straightforward account of what he stated took place in front of him.
The deceased was coming out of the hut when he was stabbed. The
deceased was carrying the plastic dish with sugar. This is in line
with the evidence of Ndlangamandla who had requested for the sugar
from the deceased. The accused confirms that the deceased was
carrying the plastic dish at the time he was stabbed. If the deceased
had indeed chased after the accused it is difficult to understand why
he would have done so with the dish in his hands. If as the accused
stated, the deceased was aware that the accused had the knife in his
possession one would have thought that the deceased would have
prepared himself for a confrontation with the accused and probably
carried his stick. It is without any hesitation whatsoever that I
accept the account of the stabbing given by Mangaliso. This account
is supported by Ndlangamandla's evidence of the deceased having gone
to the hut to fetch sugar and that it was shortly thereafter that
Mangaliso asked why the accused was stabbing the deceased. The
defence witness Agnes Simelane may well be referring to a different
incident, on the same day.
reject the accused's evidence of how the stabbing took place as being
totally false. I accept the account of the stabbing as given by the
witness Mangaliso. On that version of the stabbing, I find the
accused guilty of murder as charged.