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Durban - Relatives of the five people who were killed during the Shongweni shooting watched in disbelief as the only man charged with the murders walked free from the Durban High Court on Friday.
Sandile Ndlovu, the only surviving Shongweni killings accused, was acquitted after being charged with a series of crimes in 2010. Acting Judge A Mfayela ruled that the evidence presented by the State had “serious shortcomings”.
Ndlovu was charged with six murders, two housebreakings, rape and attempted murder in connection with attacks at two homes in Shongweni by an armed gang in October 2010.
Four members of the Zulu family, including a two-year-old boy and a visitor, were killed in the first attack at the Nyanda homestead. The gang then went to another home, where a 13-year-old girl was raped.
The girl’s pregnant sister was shot and her boyfriend was killed. Ndlovu’s alleged accomplices, brothers Philani “Nkalakatha” Nxele and Khetha “Bhejane” Nxele, were killed in shootouts with police.
On Friday, Judge Mfayela ruled that a pointing-out of the crime scene and confession by Ndlovu was inadmissible.
He said the defence objected to the pointing-out because Ndlovu was shown by the investigating officer where the incident had happened. The investigating officer had told Ndlovu that if he did not implicate himself, he would be killed, the judge said.
He added that when Ndlovu pointed to the house where the killings took place, pictures were taken. However, when he pointed to the wrong house, this was not photographed .
Also, Ndlovu’s rights were not properly explained to him, the judge added. He questioned the powers of observation of the mother of the 13-year-old girl who was raped. She had seen her attackers for the first time and two had guns. She said Ndlovu had big ears but the court found that his ears were normal size.
“She did not go to a parade (to identify the attackers)… Her daughter could not identify the attackers or the man who raped her,” he said.
The judge concluded that evidence presented by the State had serious shortcomings.
A dejected Gertrude Nyanda fought hard to hold back her tears after judgment was handed down. The Nyanda family said they were disappointed but “God was the supreme judge”. Ndlovu said he was looking forward to going home and spending time with his daughter, who was six months old when he was incarcerated.
But he said he feared for his life as people thought he was a criminal. - The Mercury