South Africa

‘I felt forced to talk’ – Sifiso Mkhwanazi tells court he ‘confessed’ because father threatened to cut him off

Sifiso Mkhwanazi sex workers murder trial

The man accused of killing six Zimbabwean sex workers in Johannesburg has claimed he was coerced into confessing to his father about the killings.

On Wednesday, Sifiso Mkhwanazi took the witness stand to defend himself at the High Court in Johannesburg, sitting in the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, on Wednesday.

A trial-within-a-trial is currently being held to ascertain whether Mkhwanazi’s alleged confession was given willingly.

The court on Tuesday ruled that a trial-within-a-trial would take place in order to determine the admissibility of the alleged confession into the main trial.

Mkhwanazi goes under oath

During proceedings, investigating officer Sergeant Bongani Mbonambi testified that all evidence presented in the trial substantiates Mkhwanazi’s confession.

Mbonambi said, in his evidence-in-chief, that the accused had been “positively” picked out by a witness during an identity parade.

“There is a cell phone that was discovered, belonging to one of the deceased. There is forensic evidence that directly links the accused with this crime,” Mbonambi told the court on Wednesday.

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Following the conclusion of Mbonambi’s testimony, Mkhwanazi took the stand and revealed in court that the investigating officer told him to confess to his father, Mike Khumalo, about the crime.

“Yes he told me to confess about the case, then we continued walking and as we reached the room my father was standing there. The police officer then said ‘okay, go talk to your father’,” Mkhwanazi testified.

The accused narrated that Khumalo informed him that there was credible evidence against him.

He pointed out that his father was skeptical about the truthfulness of the allegations against him.

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“He said they had seen all the evidence and that he did not believe it and wanted to ensure that I committed the crimes. I then spoke and saw that he was recording with a cellphone on Whatsapp,” Mkhwanazi said.

The 21-year-old further said that he felt pressurised to confess because his father had threatened to cut him off.

“I felt forced to talk because he said he would stop taking care of me and I have to tell the truth,” said Mkhwanazi.

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Recap

Khumalo on Tuesday revealed the the disturbing details of how the sex workers‘ bodies were found at a panel-beating premises in Selby, Johannesburg.

He narrated how one body was discovered near a drain, while another was found inside a dustbin at the premises on the day of his son’s arrest on 9 October 2022.

According to the father, Mkhwanazi confessed to him about the murders three weeks after his arrest.

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The accused had appeared in court on the day.

State prosecutor Advocate Leswikane Mashabela, therefore, asked the court for Khumalo’s testimony relating to his confession to be admitted as evidence.

Mkhwanazi is facing multiple charges of murder and rape, amongst other charges.

Although the accused admitted to killing his victims, he has denied premeditating the murders or raping the sex workers.

The trial will continue on Thursday.

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