Durban — The boy who was kidnapped at gunpoint just a stone’s throw from his home and held for R1 million ransom will testify in the trial against four men charged with the crime in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.
This emerged on Tuesday in court when the trial, meant to have started, was rolled over to Wednesday (today).
The boy was 11 years old in 2022 when he was kidnapped. His mother paid R90 000 ransom to his alleged kidnappers, including her neighbour, who is alleged to be the mastermind behind the crime.
When the trial gets under way the child would give evidence in a separate room with an intermediary; the court would view him from a TV monitor inside the courtroom.
State Prosecutor Kaystree Ramsamujh hoped to finish with the child’s testimony ahead of the schools reopening next week.
In court on Tuesday the legal representative of two of the accused did not pitch at court, apparently due to not having received funds. The matter was rolled over to Wednesday (today) for him to present himself before the court.
Lindokuhle Mthokozisi Thabede, 29, Mvelo Khuzwayo, 29, Fisokuhle Mathews Mbatha, 32, and the 40-year-old neighbour of the child are alleged to have kidnapped the boy at gunpoint and kept him at a certain house and demanded R1 million ransom from the child’s mother.
The child’s neighbour cannot be named to protect the identity of the minor child.
The four men who appeared before Magistrate Mohamed Motala are charged with kidnapping of a minor, kidnapping and extortion.
It is alleged that on May 18, 2022, in Umzinyathi in Inanda, the men kidnapped the child just a stone's throw from his home as he was being driven to school that morning. They also allegedly kidnapped the child’s driver and forced him into the boot of a car at gunpoint.
On that day the accused are said to have contacted the child’s mother demanding ransom of R1 million, failing which the child would be killed.
After the child was kidnapped the child’s mother contacted the police and the ransom was given to the accused under surveillance by police.
The child was kept in a certain house from that morning until being rescued by police. This came about as one of the accused volunteered information about the child’s location after police intercepted the vehicle the accused had been travelling in.
The ransom money was recovered in the home of one of the accused. The neighbour was the last accused to be arrested after being linked by cellphone evidence.
Thabede, Khuzwayo and Mbatha remain in custody as they were denied bail while the neighbour is currently out on bail.
In court, lawyer X C Dlamini representing Thabede and Khuzwayo, said that he was ready to proceed with the trial. He indicated that in a telephone conversation he had with lawyer B J Mbokazi, representing Mbatha and the neighbour, on Monday, he was told that Mbokazi was not going to be in court as he had not been paid funds.
The matter was then stood down for Dlamini to phone Mbokazi and on resumption, Dlamini said Mbokazi had given the undertaking that he would be in court Wednesday (today).
“His (Mbokazi) conduct is unethical, if he intends to withdraw he is required to be in court,” said Magistrate Motala.
“He is not permitted to simply stay away. If this continues I will have to take further steps … it is unacceptable. If there has been no proper consultation or funds paid to him he has to be in court to communicate this.”
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.