Murder of Mihalik: Defense attorney hints at disapproval over alleged breach of attorney-client privilege

The three defendants in the Pete Mihalik murder trial.

PHOTO: Jaco Marais, Netzwerk24

One of the attorneys in Pete Mihalik’s murder trial may resign after expressing concern about the potential violation of attorney-client privilege. This happened while the state was trying to learn the identity of one of the accused’s alleged alibis. Defendant says he doesn’t get an alibi to appear in court.

One of the attorneys in Pete Mihalik’s murder trial could resign after accusing the state of possibly breaching attorney-client privilege during his client’s cross-examination of his alibi.

Attorney Cronje Kriel, Vuyile Maliti’s attorney, jumped to his feet when prosecutor Greg Wolmarans asked him when he first told his attorneys about one of his alibis, a gold dealer named “Muhammed”.

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Kriel disagreed, saying the state was asking Maliti for an interview between him and his client. He said this could violate attorney-client privilege.

“Maybe I have to retire. If the witness denies anything, I have to testify,” he said.

Western Cape Supreme Court Justice Constance Nziweni responded that the prosecutor was merely trying to set a timeline, adding: “Maybe we’re tired.”

She said Kriel:

There is no need to testify, but no one will stop you if you want to.

Maliti testified that he was in the Spar car park in Green Point, Cape Town, the day before the murder and met with Muhammed to sell Krugerrand gold coins of questionable origin on behalf of his co-defendant.

On the day of the murder, October 30, 2018, he was at the same location and met another dealer named Baba.

He said these two men were his alibi, but they refused to testify for him, afraid of going to court. He couldn’t remember their last names either, and he didn’t want to reveal the location of their gold exchange offices.

Wolmarans spent the day trying to get the last names out of him and made it clear he didn’t believe the gold deal alibi. However, Maliti would not back down.

READ | Mihalik, charged with murder, says witnesses are too “timid” to testify under an alibi

“The state’s position is that there was no business meeting on October 29-30,” Wolmarans said.

He even offered Maliti to summon Muhammad free of charge so that he could vouch for him. Maliti said he will try his best to convince Muhammed “if God will help me” to come to court to provide an alibi.

“Let’s turn to religion now, Mr. Maliti?” asked Wolmaran. “Instead of a subpoena, would you rather pray for the witness to appear in court?”

Still, Maliti didn’t move.

The three accused in the murder trial of Pete Mihalik are in court.

Netzwerk24 PHOTO: Jaco Marais, Netzwerk24

Cell tower location data from Maliti’s phone and the phones of his co-defendants Sizwe Biyela and Nkosinathi Khumalo put the three in the assassination area, but they said it was just a coincidence because they were busy selling Krugerrand prices in a VW Golf haggle in the area.

A traffic delay resulted in Khumalo being arrested and apparently making an admission statement which he later said was fabricated by the investigating officer, the late Lt. Gen. Charl Kinnear.

His arrest sparked the arrest of Biyela, and later Maliti turned himself in. They were charged with murder, attempted murder of Mihalik’s two children in his car, and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. They pleaded not guilty.

READ | Second-hand gold dealers never ask questions, says Mihalik, who is charged with murder

Khumalo and Biyela testified that they brought 19 gold Krugerrands from KwaZulu-Natal for Maliti to fencing and were all negotiating in the car at the time of the murder. They also said they had alibis, but either they didn’t know their addresses because they were from out of town, or, in Khumalo’s case, his alibi had died.

Maliti said he asked his alibi to testify for him in January, but the case put him off. He said the case had created so much danger that his former attorney, Jannie Kruger, and his current attorney, Kriel, had already been threatened.

Even Marc Orten, to whom he eventually sold the coins at a Kenilworth gold exchange, “packed his bags and left” when Maliti was arrested.

Vuyile Maliti, Nkosinathi Khumalo and Sizwe Biyela appear in the Western Cape High Court over the alleged murder of solicitor Pete Mihalik.

Gallo Images PHOTO: Jaco Marais, Gallo Images, The Burgers

Wolmarans told Maliti that his gold sales business was not mentioned in his bail application income statement, only his income from the taxi business.

So he wanted to know when he finally told his lawyers and especially when he told them about the mysterious Muhammed.

Cronje disagreed. Maliti said he told attorneys sometime in 2022.

The trial was postponed until May 2, when the court would learn if Kriel intended to pursue the matter further.