Members of the Ngcobo community in the Eastern Cape gathered outside the local magistrate's court on Monday where 12 members of a gang allegedly responsible for the deadly attack on the Ngcobo police station last week are set to appear. Picture: SAPS/Supplied

Ngcobo - The four men that have been charged in connection with the shooting and killing of five police officers in Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape, on Monday told the Ngcobo Magistrate's Court that they will conduct their own defence. 

Andani Monco, 30, Banele Ndlwana, 22, Siphosomzi Tshefu, 23, and Siphesihle Tatsi, 19, are facing five counts of murder, two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one count of attempted murder. 

The four are allegedly part of a seven-member gang which entered Ngcobo police station on Wednesday, and killed five police officers and robbed the station of 10 firearms.

Their three accomplices are among the seven people who were killed by a police task team during a shoot-out on Friday night.

Earlier on Monday, 12 suspects appeared before the court but were later led out of the dock after it emerged that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was still finalising trial details. Two among those handed themselves in after fleeing the scene of the shoot-out on Friday. However, eight of them were released and the NPA cited lack of evidence.

Magistrate Nozuko Mviko told the remaining suspects about their rights to be legally represented by qualified lawyers due to the nature of charges they are facing and the sentence that goes with that if found guilty, but they insisted on conducting their own defence.

Ngcobo residents came in their numbers to protest against the granting of bail for the suspects. 

Monco and Tatsi told the court that they do not require bail, while Ndlwana and Tshefu indicated that they will apply for bail. 

It also emerged that Tatsi has no home as both he and his mother gave up everything to stay at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries Church at Nyanga village where the shoot-out took place on Friday. 

"Even if I were to apply for bail, where would I go because I don't know where my mom is? We no longer have home, we've been living at Mancoba's place," said Tatsi. 

The trial has been postponed to March 8, for formal bail application.

Police spokesperson Captain Khaya Tonjeni said earlier that a memorial service is to be held on Tuesday at the Ngcobo Methodist Church, with various community and government leaders expected to attend.

Tonjeni added that the Ngcobo police station, where five police officers and a soldier were gunned down by a heavily armed gang, is open to the public and continues to offer services to the community.

Warrant Officer Zuko Mbini, 45; Constable Zuku Ntsheku, 38; Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco, 32; Constable Sibongiseni Sodlana, 32; and Constable Kuhle Metete, 27, were killed on Wednesday night, by unknown gunmen who robbed the police station of 10 firearms and fled the scene with a police vehicle they hijacked. 

A retired soldier, 58-year-old Freddy Mpandeni, was also shot dead when the suspects fled the station.

The massacre sparked outrage across the country and a multi-disciplinary task team was assembled to track down the gang.

The team made a major breakthrough when they fatally shot seven suspects in a shoot-out at the Mancoba Seven Angels Ministries Church on Friday night.

African News Agency/ANA