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September 27, 2003

The judge in the Nellie Shabalala murder trial says he cannot hand down judgement until the prosecution finds a key state witness. Nkosinathi Shabalala, son of Ladysmith Black Mambazo leader Joseph Shabalala, and Mboneni Mdunge are charged with murdering Shabalala's stepmother Nellie who was shot dead in Clermont last year.

Both defence counsels closed their cases earlier this week and were expected to address their closing arguments to the Durban High Court yesterday.

Earlier in the trial the state produced evidence that Shabalala's cellphone had been used to contact Mdunge on the day of the murder. Shabalala admitted that the cellphone belonged to him but denied using it at the time. He said the phone was being used by a member of his singing group, Junior Mambazo. When questioned about the cellphone records, Mdunge said he had never owned a cellphone.

But Judge Brian Galgut cut short the proceedings and ordered that "every effort" be made to find missing state witness, Themba Hadebe who disappeared earlier this year after leaving the witness protection programme. Hadebe is a member of Shabalala Jnr's music group, Junior Mambazo, and toured with the troupe to New York in June this year.

The matter was adjourned until March 4 next year.

Posted by acapnews at September 27, 2003 10:33 AM

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