Nine years later: The Senzo Meyiwa five — who are the murder accused?

The five accused in the murder of South African soccer star Senzo Meyiwa appear in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ African News Agency (ANA)

The five accused in the murder of South African soccer star Senzo Meyiwa appear in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/ African News Agency (ANA)

Published Oct 26, 2023


October 26, 2023, marks exactly nine years since football star Senzo Meyiwa was gunned down in an alleged contract killing in Vosloorus.

Meyiwa was visiting his girlfriend and mother of his child, singer Kelly Khumalo when he met his demise in 2014.

Five men have been accused of his murder and are standing trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

This is not the first rodeo for some of the murder accused. Four of the men are behind bars serving sentences for unrelated crimes, including attempted murder, murder and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

But who are these men?

Accused 1: Muzikawukhulelwa Sibiya

Sibiya was arrested in Thembisa.

During the arrest, he was on trial for unrelated crimes and his bail was subsequently revoked after his arrest, as he had failed to appear in court.

Sibiya is now serving 12 years in prison for attempted murder, he was sentenced four days before he stood trial for the murder of Meyiwa.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), in 2015, Sibiya tried to murder Ntombenhle Ndaba in a hail of bullets after his new cellphone went missing at Basuthwini Hostel in Vosloorus.

He allegedly shot Ndaba 25 times and one of the bullets hit her in the chest and narrowly missed her heart.

He paid her family R5,000 in compensation.

He also shot Mfanelo Mbatha who also survived. Again, after Mbatha was shot, Sibiya’s family compensated his family with R5,000.

The NPA said that he also allegedly shot his girlfriend in December, 2014 after she threatened to blow the whistle on him for his alleged involvement in the murder of Meyiwa after he confided in her.

The case is still pending.

The Meyiwa murder trial heard this week that Sibiya had been assaulted and tortured. The court is yet to rule on the matter which is currently before the court in a trial within a trial to determine if a confession was made freely and voluntarily.

Accused number 2: Bongani Sandiso Ntanzi

Unlike the other accused, Ntanzi does not have any previous convictioms or a criminal record.

At the time of his arrest on June 16, 2020, he was at work at the Sibanye Gold in Rustenburg, North West, where he worked as a miner.

He claims that he was in KZN paying lobola on the weekend of the shooting. He said his bank statements would prove this.

Murder accused Bongani Ntanzi during his bail application at the high court in Pretoria.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

However, there were no transactions on his statements dated from October 24 until October 28.

He applied for bail in April, however, his application was denied.

Judge Audrey Ledwaba said it was not in the interest of justice to grant him bail. Judge Ledwaba added that Ntanzi hadn’t provided exceptional circumstances that supported his bail application.

During the trial-within-a-trial to determine if confessions made by Ntanzi were made freely and voluntarily, it was revealed that Ntanzi had been arrested on June 16, 2020, but he made his first appearance with the other co-accused on October 26, 2020, almost four months later.

The court has also heard how Ntanzi had been allegedly beaten and had not washed for eight days when he made a confession before Magistrate Vivienne Cronje.

Accused 3: Mthobisi Prince Mncube

Mncube was arrested early in 2015 for an unrelated murder case, four months after Meyiwa’s murder. Arguably, it was his arrest which was the key to unlocking the mysterious Senzo Meyiwa murder.

The murder weapon used to murder Meyiwa was found in Mncube’s possession when he was arrested in February 2015 while in the company of his girlfriend.

However, police had actually arrested him in connection with the murder of Alexandra taxi boss Reggie Mohlala.

Mohlala was shot dead in January 2015, three months after the soccer star died.

The gun that killed Mohlala and Meyiwa was found in Mncube’s possession.

Mncube is serving more than 30 years for Mohlala’s murder.

During the Meyiwa murder trial, Mncube has also been identified as the dreadlocked gunman who entered the house on the fateful day Meyiwa was gunned down.

Cellphone pictures found on Mncube’s cellphone when he was arrested have identified him sporting dreadlocks on the day Meyiwa was gunned down.

Police cellphone experts also found pictures a day before the murder, which showed that Mncube had been wearing the same beige coloured clothes, which he was alleged to have been wearing on the day of the murder.

Accused 4: Mthokoziseni Maphisa

Maphisa was already in custody for a different matter when he was charged with the murder of Meyiwa.

It is unclear how many years he’s serving and for what crime.

His sister, Sinqobile Maphisa has been actively campaigning for her brother’s release. She is adamant that her brother has been framed and was not involved in the death of Meyiwa.

She claims that this is done by people who are in the pocket of police officers and insists they are protecting the real killers.

Police have encouraged Sinqobile to open a case so that her allegations can be investigated.

Mthokoziseni Maphisa (wearing glasses) is one of the five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the Gauteng North High Court.Picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)

Accused number 5: Fisokuhle Ntuli

Ntuli is a notorious KwaZulu-Natal hitman, who has been convicted on six counts of murder and is serving six life sentences and 39 years for the crime.

He was already in prison when he was arrested for the murder of Meyiwa.

Ntuli's reign of terror began in April 2015 when he murdered Bhutiza Mahlobo in Nongoma.

In 2016, he murdered African National Congress councillor, Thami Nyembe, who was in the company of his wife who sustained serious injuries during the shooting, but survived.

In 2017, he hunted down three brothers who were going to testify as witnesses in the murder of Nyembe.

In 2018, he pulled his last hit on Sphamandla Zungu who is believed to be his cousin.

Sifisokuhle Nkani Ntuli is one of five accused in the Senzo Meyiwa murder trial at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

The Case

Retired Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng, who was ironically a former footballer having played for both Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, was roped in to replace the sickly Judge Tshifiwa Maumela in July 2023, in a bid to speed up the case and bring the matter to finality.

Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng during the Senzo Meyiwa trial at the North Gauteng High Court. Picture: Oupa Mokoena / African News Agency (ANA)

It is unclear if the case will conclude before the end of the year, but proceedings appear to have moved along at a faster pace with fewer interruptions.

Currently, the trial has been suspended as a trial-within-a-trial is underway to determine if confessions made by accused one and two, were made freely and voluntarily.

The court has also found that a recording of one of the confessions, which was made by Magistrate Vivienne Cronje, infringed on the rights of accused two, Ntanzi, as it was made without his knowledge or consent. The court ruled it could not rely on the recording.