By Valencia Talane
Ex-Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans and his former bodyguard Enoch Matshaba, the men convicted of killing corruption whistleblower Moss Phakoe, were dealt a setback in their quest for freedom this week when the North West High Court threw out their bid to have the case reopened on grounds of there being new evidence.
The two men are currently also appealing their murder conviction and are out on bail.
Wolmarans and Matshaba were convicted in July last year for the 2009 murder of Rustenburg councillor Moss Phakoe.
The “new evidence” the two were hoping to use in the appeal of their convictions came in the form of a sworn affidavit indicating the recantation of key witness Emmanuel Masoka’s testimony.
Masoka had testified during the murder trial that Wolmarans confessed to murdering Phakoe when the two shared a jail cell after Wolmarans’s arrest. In January this year, Masoka deposed to an affidavit in which he said his testimony had been false.
Evidence brought forward during last year’s trial indicated that Phakoe had compiled a dossier detailing allegations of corruption amounting to millions of rands against Wolmarans and other senior officials in Bojanala Platinum District Municipality, under which Rustenburg Municipality falls.
A trade unionist with his roots in Cosatu, Phakoe had played a significant role in the freedom struggle, before he became a local councillor in 2002.
Wolmarans and Matshaba were sentenced to 20 years and life respectively last year and immediately filed appeals against their convictions.
While this was turned down, a second application for leave to appeal, heard in the Rustenburg court in April this year, was granted and in May the two were released on bail of R100 000 each, pending the hearing.
North West spokesperson for the Hawks Frank Lesenyego explained to Corruption Watch that a date is still to be arranged for the full hearing in the two men’s leave to appeal, despite this week’s decision. The court will now only view evidence already on record from the original trial.
“Both Wolmaraans and Matshaba are still out on bail of R100 000 each,” said Lesenyego.