NGCOBO - More details on how two of the five Ngcobo police officers were lured to their death emerged during the bail hearing of four of the six suspects on Monday.
The six suspects, Andani Monco, Kwanele Ndlwana, Siphosomzi Tshefu, Siphesihle Tatsi, Phumzile Mhlatywa and Phuthumile Mancoba, are facing a range of charges, including five counts of murder after allegedly shooting and killing five police officers, and robbery with aggravating circumstances after they robbed police their firearms and bulletproof vests.
There is also a count of attempted murder after another police officer who was shot in the neck but survived after being rushed to hospital.
Investigating officer Captain Thembinkosi Bambelele took to the stand on Monday to lead evidence against the granting of bail to Tshefu, who remained the only suspect pursuing bail after his co-accused all withdrew their applications.
Bambelele told the court that one of the six accused, Mhlatywa, had lured the police to the scene where they were murdered.
He said: "Accused number five (Mhlatywa) drove past the police van and made a sudden u-turn of his car in front of the police vehicle. The police officers also turned their car, chasing him and then he stopped close to where his accomplices have waited in ambush and attacked the two police officers as they were confronting him."
Bambelele said Tshefu and his co-accused attacked the two cops using two firearms that were stolen from police officers in towns of Butterworth and Cala respectively. He said it would not be in the interest of justice to release Tshefu on bail because he is facing serious schedule six charges.
"The accused (Tshefu) and co-accused murdered five police officers, stole their firearms and bulletproof vests. Him and three co-accused were with Thandazile Mancoba and Siyasanga Mfazwe when two police officers were ambushed and murdered close to Nyanga High School and stripped of their firearms and bulletproof vests," said Bambelele.
He said there will be community outrage and the community would not feel safe if Tshefu was released.
Bambelele also told the court that the accused had a shooting range at a river bank where they practiced shooting. He also said it would be difficult to trace Tshefu as he does not have identity book.
Tshefu, who is conducting his own defence, disputed the claim, saying: "I have an ID book but it was left to the car that we were using, only Siphesihle Tatsi among us doesn't have an ID."
He also said they never took bulletproof vests from the two slain officers, "we only took bulletproofs vests at the police station," he said.
But Bambelele insisted that the accused took bulletproof vests from the two slain cops and threw them close to where they abandoned the police van.
Magistrate Nozuko Mviko interjected and told Tshefu to focus his line of question to evidence that is related to why he should be granted bail.
Following the advice from the magistrate, Tshefu also abandoned his bail application.
Earlier in the day, Phuthumile Mancoba, who had instructed legal aid lawyer Malusi Sakwe, told the court that he was temporarily withdrawing his bail application due to home circumstances.
Sakwe said: "Accused number six (Phuthumile Mancoba) has instructed me to temporary withdraw his bail application until he gets his house in order."
He told the court that Phuthumile lived with his family at Mancoba compound and it is not yet clear what's going to happen with the house.
There has been an outcry from the community for the compound, where police cornered a number of suspects and killed seven of them in a firefight, be demolished and the police are waiting for the court order to do so.
Mhlatywa, who is accused number five in the matter, also said he is temporarily abandoning his bail application.
Instead he requested the court to arrange for him to get clothing that he can wear for his court appearance. "I was wearing a shorts and t-shirt during my arrest and they got torn, I borrowed these clothes that I'm currently wearing," said Mhlatywa.
Magistrate Mviko called on family members who attended the court hearing to assist the accused with his request.
Ndlwana who had argued to be released on bail earlier this month also withdrew his bail application but requested to be allowed to see a doctor. He told court that he suffers from sinus infection and doesn't have medication. He also made a request for a blanket, alleging that he only covers himself with clothing. Ndlwana also told the court that they all needed toiletries.
Magistrate Mviko once again said only families could assist with those needs. All accused are incarcerated at Mthatha prison and will remain in custody and will appear in court again in May.
African News Agency/ANA