Gold Coins, Stokvels And A Stolen Car: This Week In The Mihalik Murder Trial In South Africa – Eagle News Feed
The trial of the three men accused of assassinating Cape Town lawyer Pete Mihalik finally shed light on at least one possible alternative version of why CCTV and cellphone location records support the State’s contention that they have the right people behind bars.
According to News 24, Sizwe Biyela, Nkosinathi Khumalo, and Vuyile Maliti have been in custody since 2018, after Mihalik’s murder on 30 October of that year.
In testimony during their trial in the Western Cape High Court this week, Biyela and Khumalo said they were in Cape Town to sell 19 Kruger Rands through Maliti, and definitely not to pull off the murder of a prominent lawyer.
They testified that the timelines, CCTV, and cellphone location data that place them in the vicinity of the murder, are linked to the coin deal, not a murder.
Mihalik was shot dead while taking his children to school in Green Point. His two children were in the car with him at the time. His son was injured but was treated afterward.
Biyela, Khumalo and Maliti were charged and have pleaded not guilty.
Biyela’s version is that he worked as a general worker at a warehouse in Durban when a man approached him in a pub in Umlazi and told him about opportunities in Kruger Rand deals.
According to Biyela, this man would source the coins and he (Biyela) would sell them to jewelers in the Durban CBD.
When he was in Cape Town around the time of the Mihalik shooting, he intended to sell 11 coins through Maliti.
Khumalo testified that he is a taxi driver with an Empangeni taxi association, and he saved from his R700 a week wage to buy eight coins for R60 000.
When pressed on how this was possible, he said he “played” a taxi stokvel and got around R5 000 a month from this.
A stokvel is a savings system among trusted people who pool the same amount of money every month.
The stokvel members each take a turn to get the full amount in one month.
The money is used as a way of saving communally for individuals to be able to buy a big-ticket item or even get through the higher-than-normal expenses of a certain month.
He traveled to Cape Town with Biyela, his cousin, and they hoped to score more than R300 000 by selling all the coins.
Maliti is the third accused. Not much is known about him, except that he is Capetonian, from Khayelitsha, and deals in jewelry.
He applied to have the case against him discharged at one point but was unsuccessful.
The only clues to Maliti’s line of work were when his counsel corrected Biyela on how much commission he took from coin sales he facilitated – 20%.
The court has adjourned until 1 March, when Khumalo’s cross-examination by the State will continue.
When the case left off on Thursday, the State was quizzing Khumalo on a messy traffic stop in Green Point that ultimately led to his arrest and cracked the case open.
A traffic officer pulled over two vehicles for skipping a stop street, and while getting their fines ready, Khumalo’s car was driven away from the scene. According to the traffic officer, Khumalo later returned on foot, but his passenger was nowhere to be seen.
His description of the missing passenger matches the shooter’s – checked shirt and light-colored trousers.
The State alleges that its forensic analysis of the CCTV image pegs Biyela as the shooter. Biyela said he was offended by this accusation.
Khumalo says the traffic officer is lying, not only about him having a passenger at the traffic stop but also about how the car disappeared.
Khumalo claims it was stolen from under their noses, and he only went with the traffic officer to a police station because he wanted to file a report for insurance.
Nevertheless, that traffic stop, and the disappeared car, led to Khumalo being taken to the Sea Point police station and then later arrested for the murder of Mihalik.
Biyela was tracked to a bus stop in Bellville after police tracked his phone when he started calling Khumalo frantically after the traffic stop.
A mystery caller around the time of the murder between the three accused is also in the mix.
The phone is no longer used, and the mystery caller has not been identified.
Biyela said he thought it was another dealer but could not remember that dealer’s name.
The State rejects their version of their movements that day and alleges they were in Cape Town to kill Mihalik.