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All eyes on murder trial of Glebelands 8

Published Jan 28, 2019

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Durban - THE much anticipated trial of the men accused of being behind several deaths and other crimes at uMlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel, dubbed the Glebelands 8, is scheduled to begin in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday.

Hostel residents were terrorised by the killings, some of which are believed to be politically motivated, and which were the subject of an investigation by the Moerane Commission of Inquiry into political violence.

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It is believed that more than 100 people were killed there in recent years.

The indictment alleges that prior to the commission of the crimes, Detective Constable Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, 37, and his co-accused - Khayelihle Mbu­thuma, 28, Vukani Mcombothi, 30, Eugene Hlophe, 45, Ncomekile Ntshangase, 34, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, 29, Mondli Mthethwa, 29, and Bongani Mbhele, 33 - had conspired to form a syndicate “with the common purpose to eliminate” their rivals at the hostel.

Mdweshu is facing charges of managing an enterprise conducted through a pattern of racketeering activities. Other charges against him and his co-accused include murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

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All eight were denied bail by the Durban Regional Court.

An attorney representing some of the accused told the Daily News yesterday the the trial would not start as expected, saying the defence was not ready.

Andile Dakela, who represents Mdweshu, Hlophe and Ntshangase, said he has been instructed to hire the services of another advocate and apply for an adjournment to a day that suited that advocate. He would not name the advocate, but said it was not advocate Jimmy Howse, who represented the men at their bail application.

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There was speculation about how Mdweshu and his co-accused had been able to retain Howse’s services.

Vanessa Burger, an independent community activist for human rights and social justice, who blew the whistle on violence at the hostel, said, “It will be interesting to see if Mdweshu, a former constable who would probably have been earning around R20000 a month and claimed to have been suspended without pay; his brother, Ncomekile Ntshangase, a Prasa employee who, according to his bail application earns R18000 a month; and co-accused Wonderboy Hlophe, who attested to a monthly security guard’s salary of R5000; will have managed to retain the counsel of a top criminal advocate, who charges more than R45000 a day.”

Howse confirmed that the men had not instructed him to act for them during the trial due to their financial situation.

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Dakela said the defence would not be in a position to start the trial as he had only received the statements of his clients last Thursday.

The State had submitted a witness list of 107 people, including police officers, a cellular network provider and private security companies.

The State alleges that from time to time the accused and accomplices would summon other residents in the Glebelands Hostel complex to meetings to announce a collection of money. The indictment details how victims were “shot in the head”.

Daily News

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