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Cape Town - Six people are on trial in the Western Cape High Court for the alleged vigilante killing of three Khayelitsha men.
The trio, along with a fourth man, were suspected of breaking into the Harare home of one of the accused, Mziwabantu Madiba Mncwengi, on March 10 last year and stealing a television set.
The State believes that a few days later in the early hours of March 14, the accused rounded up their victims - Luxolo Mpontshane, Mabuthi Matinise and Sivuyile Rola - and took them to Mncwengi’s house. Once there, their hands were allegedly tied with wire and they were beaten with blunt objects.
They were transported to the Macassar sand mines and were killed.
Another man suspected of the theft of the TV, Mphuthumi Nobanda, had also allegedly been beaten for information.
The accused now face charges of murder, assault and kidnapping.
All six, however, have pleaded not guilty to the charges and a seventh accused has turned State witness. The charges against him have been withdrawn.
Mncwengi is on trial with his brother Mzimasi Madiba Mncwengi, Mzimasi’s wife Buyelwa Mncwengi, as well as Lumnko Babalaza, Xolani Makapela and Mawende Siboma.
The first two State witnesses to testify in the trial this week were Matinise’s mother Nolusapho and sister Nomvelo.
According to Nomvelo Matinise, her brother had fallen asleep watching TV on the night of March 13 last year and that there’d been a knock at the door at around 1am.
Her mother had opened the door and the Madiba brothers, and Babalaza, had entered.
They manhandled her brother, she said, and ignored her pleas for an explanation.
They had taken Mabuthi Matinise outside and beaten him with sticks, then put him in a white Quantum minibus and left.
He hadn’t wanted to go but they’d pulled him, she testified.
He’d returned at about 4am, limping and his torn T-shirt stained with “big spots” of blood.
She had gone to work that day and when she returned that night, no one was home. She had become worried.
There had been a visit to their house early the next morning to inform them that Mabuthi Matinise was dead.
Nolusapho Matinise testified that she had hidden in the passage of the house while they assaulted her son.
“I didn’t say anything. I just looked the other way and started crying,” she said during cross-examination.
Nolusapho Matinise was questioned under cross-examination about her statement to the police, which had been taken two months after the incident.
Defence lawyer Josephine Losch pointed out several differences between Matinise’s statement and her testimony, among them that she had not mentioned the Quantum in her statement.
Losch put it to her that if she had noticed the minibus, she would have mentioned it in her statement.
But Matinise stuck by her version that she had seen a Quantum, saying the officer who had taken her statement might not have written everything down.
The trial continues.