Prominent Durban businesswoman escapes punishment for attempted murder.

Nondalo Mhlongo, a complainant in a state case, has asked the NPA to review a court decision acquitting businesswoman Manana Nhlanhla of attempted murder.

Mrs Nhlanhla walked scot-free after Magistrate Ismail Malek ruled in favour of a Section 174 application made by her attorneys in November 2022. Manana Nhlanhla was found not guilty and Malek summarily dismissed the case against her in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court last week.

She was charged with attempted murder after allegedly assaulting and injuring Ms Mhlongo with a wine decanter in Drummond, a village west of Durban, in July 2020.

In his verdict, Malek found that there were shortcomings in the state’s case that ranged from the nature of the charges brought against Nhlanhla, the clothes she was wearing, and the exact place where the offence allegedly occurred.

“There is no credible evidence before me – upon me acting carefully, reasonably, objectively, and judiciously – to convict Nhlanhla,” said the magistrate.

But Mhlongo is not taking the outcome lying down and has approached the NPA, seeking a review of the matter.

She maintains the court did not take all the facts into account before ruling on the matter.

On the 22nd of July 2020, Nondalo Mhlongo was brutally assaulted by Manana Nhlanhla, a well-known businesswoman.

She opened the case with the police, but whilst waiting for the accused to be arrested and charged, she received a call from the investigating officer informing her that the prosecutor had dropped the charges as there was no case.

Mhlongo then approached the provincial NPA office and requested a review of the case. After months of investigation, the NPA charged Manana Nhlanhla with attempted murder. The trial started in June 2021. However, in the middle of the trial, the accused applied for a section 174 and was controversially acquitted on Thursday the 12th of January 2023. 

Among the discrepancies, the complainant has pointed out is the fact extensive evidence given under oath by four state witnesses, including that of the eyewitness, Nomusa Mhlongo, as well as the doctor’s version in relation to the nature of the injuries the complainant sustained and how they were sustained, has been ignored.

The complaint’s account and that of one of the eyewitnesses, Nomusa Mhlongo, were supported by tracker records from Nomusa’s vehicle, which they were driving that day, showing that the assault happened soon after 6pm. Nhlanhla, the accused, could easily have driven from her son’s house within a kilometre away to the crime scene within the time. 

There is also the unanswered question by the accused defence that she does not know the complainant or her family, even though Mhlongo’s brother was a pageboy at Manana’s wedding.

Investigating officer Gayi and prosecutor Gqoboka from Camperdown district clearly failed in their public duty to the complainant as detailed in the public administration act Section 195(1).

The defence claim that the NPA was biased towards the state by quoting sections in the case law that empowers the NPA to be accountable and transparent is completely unfounded.

As a complainant, Mhlongo had the right to air her dissatisfaction to the NPA as advised by her lawyers in relation to the reasons why the matter was not pursued at the Camperdown Court, and Senior state Advocate Du Preez at DPP also had a right to override the decision made by prosecutor Gqoboka after further investigating the case. 

This clearly is not the end of this case as Ms Mhlongo is determined in her plight of seeking justice & retribution.