Africa

South Africa footballer Senzo Meyiwa murder case: Suspect freed

Senzo Meyiwa during the CAF Champions League Final between Orlando Pirates and Al Ahly in Soweto, SA - 02 November 2013 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Meyiwa began playing for Orlando Pirates in 2005 and went on to captain the national team Bafana Bafana

A South African court has withdrawn murder charges against a man arrested in connection with the killing of national football captain Senzo Meyiwa.

Zanokuhle Mbatha was arrested by a special police task team last month after a nationwide manhunt.

The magistrate ordered that he be released because that there was not enough evidence for him to stand trial.

Meyiwa was killed in a robbery at his girlfriend's home in the township of Vosloorus, east of Johannesburg.

Two men allegedly entered Kelly Khumalo's home on 26 October and demanded mobile phones before shooting Meyiwa during a scuffle.

Image copyright South African Police Service
Image caption The police issued images of those suspected of involvement in the killing

The BBC's Pumza Fihlani in Johannesburg says the goalkeeper's death caused a nationwide outcry with calls for stricter gun laws in a country with one of the highest murder rates in the world.

The day after the attack, police offered a reward of $23,000 (£14,000) for information about it and released images of two men suspected of killing Meyiwa, who also played for Soweto team Orlando Pirates.

Identity parade

Police placed a barricade of barbed wire around the court in Boksburg to help manage crowds ahead of Tuesday's hearing and checked all cars entering the vicinity, reports South Africa's Eyewitness News.

But Mr Mbatha, 25, also from Vosloorus, was not present in court.

"From the submissions made by prosecutor Getrude Market, the court has accepted that as of now there is not sufficient evidence to put Mr Mbatha to trial," Magistrate Daniel Thulare Thulare said.

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Media captionHow violent is South Africa?

It is not clear if the Mr Mbatha will still form part of ongoing investigations.

But the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has conceded that it does not currently have enough evidence to prosecute him.

"When we were presented with the docket when the accused first appeared at the time we were of the view that we had sufficient evidence to place the matter on the court roll," NPA spokesperson Nathi Ncube told the BBC.

"The accused had been identified in identity parade by two people but more information came to light and the information that was contained in the docket was inconsistent with the identification parade," he said.

Our reporter says South Africa's police have a reputation for bungling investigations and a successful arrest and prosecution would go some way to restoring the public's faith in the law enforcement agencies.

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