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Glebelands Hostel committee not happy with sentences of hit men

Published Feb 17, 2023


Durban — The peace committee at Glebelands hostel fears that the eight men convicted of crimes by the Pietermaritzburg High Court yesterday will emerge soon to continue with what they were doing.

The eight who were found guilty of murder, possession of an illegal firearm, and other crimes lived at the hostel and killed nine people between 2014 and 2016. A police officer is among the eight men.

The eight - Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, who is a former police officer, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mcomekile Ntshangase, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele - all lived at the hostel. The court revealed that before the incidents, they conspired with each other to eliminate or kill hostel residents who threatened their control of the hostel.

During the period of the offences, the following nine people were killed: Siniko Ncayiyane, Thulani Kati, Sipho Ndovela, Themba Pina, Nkosinathi Ndovela, William Mthembu, Thokozani Machi, Mzwandile Gawuza and Lucky Mtwa. Seven others were injured, resulting in the attempted murder charges.

Mbuyiseli Somaxama said he lives at the hostel and said the court’s judgment was disappointing.

“There are a lot of disappointing things about this case. Zinakile Fexi, who was the first person to die at Glebelands. No one is saying anything about him. Police went to fetch his body. In fact, he died in their hands. There are a lot of people that were not spoken of,” he said.

Somaxama said a lot of promises were made to the victims but none of them were kept. He said victims were promised by the government that they were going to receive counselling and food parcels but they never did.

“Nothing was done,” he said.

He said some victims were promised that they would be brought to court to hear the judgment but that was not done.

“It is now sad to see the children of the people who were killed going around begging for bread. Those children had everything before their parents were forcefully taken away from them.”

Somaxama said they were scared of the hit men because of the fear that they instilled in the community and the hostel.

The National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, said they welcomed the successful finalisation of the matter and trusted that the sentences imposed would have a deterring effect on like-minded individuals.

“We welcome the successful conclusion of this matter as well as the hefty sentences imposed. The accused in this matter instilled fear in the community, especially those who live in Glebelands hostel and they acted lawlessly. Well done to the prosecution and investigation team,” she said.

The convictions are as follows:

  • Mdweshu was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and four counts of attempted murder and sentenced to an effective 10 years imprisonment.
  • Mbuthuma was convicted of three counts of murder and sentenced to an effective term of life imprisonment.
  • Mcobothi was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of attempted murder and three counts of murder and was sentenced to life in jail.
  • Hlophe and Ntshangase were convicted of four counts of attempted murder each, and were sentenced to an effective five years imprisonment each.
  • Mkhize was convicted of two counts of murder and given life imprisonment.
  • Mthethwa was convicted of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of murder, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition, and will serve a term of life imprisonment.
  • Mbhele was convicted of two counts of murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

In sentencing them, the court imposed a term of life imprisonment for each count of murder and where there was more than one count. The sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Regarding the attempted murder charges, the court found that the men were in custody (awaiting trial) for more than five years. Therefore, the court imposed a sentence of 10 years imprisonment, where five years were suspended for a period of five years.

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