Durban - Details of a bitter love triangle began to emerge at the bail hearing for five men accused of plotting against and murdering a National Intelligence Unit police constable.
Captain Dumisani Hlongwa of the Durban Organised Crime Unit told the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court on Friday that Mthokozisi Ngcobo, Khulekani Vilakazi, Anele Gumbi, Siyabonga Hlophe and Wonderboy Meyiwa lured Constable Thabo Mlotshwa to his death in Mpola near Mariannhill in November.
After seeing a status change posted by his girlfriend about Mlotshwa on a social networking site, Ngcobo allegedly took a phone belonging to his girlfriend, who is also the mother of his child, and started SMSing Mlotshwa, arranging for a meeting that evening.
Believing he would be meeting the woman, Mlotshwa arrived at Mpola, out of uniform but carrying his service pistol at his waist.
There he was met by the five suspects, with Ngcobo carrying a firearm, the court heard.
Without a scuffle, Mlotshwa was shot in the right eye, the bullet exiting the back of his head. He died instantly, Hlongwa testified.
Gumbi then allegedly went to his house nearby to collect plastic, which the accused used to wrap Mlotshwa’s body, and two spades which they used to dig a shallow grave near a ravine, about 500m away from the scene of the killing.
The five allegedly took Mlotshwa’s two cellphones, service pistol and Ford Focus – which they tried to sell for R2 500.
The goods were all later recovered.
“This was all premeditated murder. When Ngcobo turned himself in, it was not because he was remorseful, but because he feared for his life after hearing the police were at his home searching for him,” said Hlongwa.
The suspects, aged between 20 and 25, face charges of murder, theft of a state firearm, theft of a vehicle, and theft of Mlotshwa’s cellphones.
Ngcobo also faces a charge of being in possession of an illegal firearm.
With increasing reports of police killings in KwaZulu-Natal, Hlongwa said justice needed to prevail. “The justice system needs to show the community that the killing of a policeman is unacceptable.”
Attorneys for the defence argued that there was nothing linking the suspects to the murders.
However, the five were denied bail as the magistrate said they posed a threat to the witnesses, who are known to them, and would evade trial if they were to be released.
The case was postponed to next month.