The State has requested that taxi boss Bonke Makalala, who has been on the police’s radar for serious crimes, be kept in Malmesbury prison for “security reasons”.
Makalala made his first appearance at the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Thursday facing six charges including murder, two of attempted murder, and illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
There was a strong police presence outside the court, with the Tactical Response Team (TRT) working with the court security controlling access inside court F, where Makalala appeared.
Three of Makalala’s family members among the group of people waiting outside the courtroom were given access inside.
Magistrate Keith le Keur ruled at the start of the proceedings that photos and filming were permitted.
This was after Makalala, who appeared nonchalant in the dock, wearing a black sweatshirt jersey and blue jeans, informed the court through his lawyer that he did not object to the media application as the case was “of public interest”.
The accused was wanted by police for cases dating back to 2018, and investigating officers went to East London, Eastern Cape, in search of him when they received a tip-off that he was in Gauteng.
Police said he was moving between provinces.
A multidisciplinary sting operation led police to Makalala in Pretoria on Sunday morning.
During the arrest, police allegedly found him with a gun, which was among the items confiscated, and Makalala appeared at the Pretoria Central Magistrate's Court on Monday charged with the possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.
The matter was postponed to January for bail application before he was transferred to the Western Cape.
According to prosecutor Nico Breyl, the accused was charged with premeditated murder for an incident on December 13, 2019, in Batwali Street, Old Crossroad in Nyanga when he allegedly shot Masixole Batwali multiple times.
“The State alleged that the murder was premeditated and during the commission of the offence the accused acted in concert with other unknown persons acting with a ‘common purpose’. A declaration was made by the deceased, he was able to tell witnesses who shot him before he died. DNA swabs taken on the firearm linked him, evidence was also obtained in a cellphone. The accused was also near or at the scene,” said Breyl.
He said a woman and child were also wounded in this incident. Breyl also revealed that the accused previously appeared in court for a case in the same area. In 2018 he was allegedly found in possession of a prohibited firearm with the serial number removed, and ammunition.
Makalala’s lawyer, Chad Levendal, requested further details and evidence.
Magistrate Le Keur postponed the matter to December 19 and Breyl requested that Makalala be kept at Malmesbury prison.
“The court can't take that decision, the Correctional Services must do that. Have arrangements been made yet?”
Beryl confirmed that this was being arranged.
Makalala started as a driver in 2008 and later joined the Cape Amalgamated Taxi Association (Cata) as a taxi boss. He is also a businessman who owns buses and a funeral parlour.