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Meyiwa investigation: Police not ruling out re-arresting Mbatha

The NPA says they withdrew the charges because new information was received.

Families and friends of Zanokuhle Mbatha wait for court proceedings to start on 11 November 2014. Picture: Thando Kubheka/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police say they cannot rule out the possibility of re-arresting Zanokuhle Mbatha, the man who was accused of murdering Bafana Bafana and Orlando Pirates captain Senzo Meyiwa, but who was today set free.

Mbatha was identified by two separate witnesses and charged with murder and robbery a week-and-a-half ago.

The soccer star was shot and killed on 26 October while visiting his girlfriend Kelly Khumalo in Vosloorus.

Video: 'Senzo died in my arms'.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)'s Nathi Mncube says they withdrew the charges because new information was received and there were suddenly major contradictions in the case.

But he says this doesn't mean the case against Mbatha can't be brought back to life.

Magistrate Daniel Thulare has called for calm, saying South Africans should respect the legal process.

He ordered that Mbatha be released from custody immediately.

MIXED REACTION TO MBATHA'S RELEASE

There has been mixed reaction to Mbatha's release in his home town of Vosloorus, with some residents accusing the police of acting too hastily in arresting Mbatha.

One resident told Eyewitness News that South Africa's judicial system is a flop.

While another said, "They didn't do enough investigation. They just took the guy and put him in prison."

It's not clear when Mbatha will return to the community.

Residents say they are still angry over Meyiwa's death and want answers.

POLICE ORDERED TO GO BACK TO DRAWING BOARD

Despite more than a dozen suspects being questioned, Mbatha was the only man to be arrested and charged.

He did not appear in court this morning, which is unusual, even if a case is being formally withdrawn.

Officials were clearly reluctant to expose him to any further exposure particularly in a courtroom packed with cameras and journalists.

Video: 13 Questioned only 1 murdered.

Earlier, Mbatha's family members said they always knew he was innocent.

His family emerged from the court building crying and embracing one another.

His mother covered her face with a scarf as she broke down outside court.

Some of his relatives shouted that they always knew police had arrested the wrong man.

They were escorted by police offices as they made their way to a waiting taxi nearby.

Meyiwa was laid to rest on 1 November at the Heroes Acre Cemetery in Chesterville, KwaZulu-Natal.

Flags flew at half-mast as thousands bid the Pirates goalkeeper farewell at the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

People from across the football fraternity, politicians and various dignitaries attended the funeral.