Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says he felt violated of his dignity and right to mourn Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at her burial in 2018 after allegedly being denied access to the cemetery by Lieutenant Colonel Johannes Venter.
"I felt fundamentally violated, denied not just our freedom to movement, [but also our] freedom to access the memorial park, and dignity to mourn someone we had a relationship with. Despite that relationship, we were told on countless moments that we could not enter," Ndlozi testified in the Randburg Magistrate's Court in Johannesburg on Friday morning.
Ndlozi and his co-accused, EFF leader Julius Malema, are on trial for the alleged assault of Venter during the burial of Madikizela-Mandela on 14 April 2018.
During his almost two-hour testimony, Ndlozi said that on the day of the burial they were picked up in a Mercedes-Benz V-Class and escorted to Orlando Stadium in Soweto to attend the proceedings.
Ndlozi, who smiled during most of his testimony, said that on arrival at the stadium, they parked their vehicle in the basement parking designated for close family and people who were listed on the burial programme.
After the proceedings at the stadium, they again joined the convoy and proceeded towards the cemetery.
Ndlozi told the court that on their arrival at the cemetery, they were stopped by Venter, who denied them access. He said it was unclear why they were stopped and were only told that there was a problem with their credentials.
He told the court that Malema and one of the protectors exited the vehicle to talk to Venter, but he did not cooperate.
"I got out and tried to engage the officer, and he was not listening and kept saying we were not allowed access," he testified.
He said he then grabbed Venter by the hand and tried to pull him away from the vehicle, but Venter was "too strong" and pushed back using his body.
"The idea was that we had to push him as far out as possible so that we could enter because we had a right to be there."
Ndlozi said their vehicle was fitted with a visible permit and went through multiple checks, but Venter maintained that they were not allowed to enter the cemetery.
When asked by his lawyer, advocate Laurance Hodes, SC, how he felt following the ordeal, Ndlozi told the court he felt fundamentally violated and denied of the opportunity to mourn a person they loved.
Ndlozi said Venter's refusal to grant them access was fundamentally humiliating and a fundamental violation of their dignity.