File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

Port Elizabeth - Six men allegedly involved in a so-called 2016 revenge mission which left two people dead, another kidnapped and saw several homes go up in flames, pleaded not guilty to a string of charges in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Monday. 

The State, however, has been dealt a serious blow after a person who is believed to be a State witness was gunned down.

Earlier this month, four people were sitting at the back of a house in Searle Road in Schauderville, when an unknown person entered the yard and started shooting at the group. At the time, police said two people, aged 27 and 34, sustained fatal injuries while another two, 28 and 33, were injured.

The African News Agency (ANA) understands that one of the people who was killed during the attack was expected to testify against some of the accused in the trial in the high court. 

Police spokesperson Colonel Priscilla Naidu said last week that the name of the deceased was being withheld for security reasons. 

Damian Kammies, Deilon Makoppa, Kurt Bosman, Christiano Witbooi, Ashton Calvert and Warren Steyn face 15 charges which include murder, attempted murder, arson, housebreaking with intent to do grievous bodily harm, assault to cause grievous bodily harm, kidnapping and unlawful possession of firearm and ammunition. All six of them hail from notorious gang infested area Schauderville in the city’s northern areas.

According to the State, the men were on a mission to hunt down Neville Bruintjies who had apparently disarmed two fellow Spotbouers gang members of a firearm.

During November 2016, the men allegedly broke into a house in Schauderville in pursuit of Bruintjies. But when Bruintjies couldn’t be found, the men then kidnapped Mohammed Abdullah. 

While continuing to search for Bruintjies, Abdullah was killed and his body later discovered in the Malabar vlak area.

The men allegedly returned to Bruintjies’s mother’s house and Abdullah’s house where they set the home alight.

According to the indictment, the fire spread to other homes in the area causing extensive damage.

The alleged killers continued to search for Bruintjies at a house in Lawler Street in Schauderville. When they came into contact with Franklin Matthys who could not assist with information, they allegedly kidnapped and assaulted him with a firearm. 

When Nigel Matthys could not assist with information on Bruintjies whereabouts, he was allegedly hit with a baseball bat. 

The State alleges that in the interim Matthy’s cousin, Deon, was shot and killed in cold blood.

All the men have indicated that the defence would be that of an alibi. 

Defence Advocate Chris Nel said that he understood the names of some witnesses were being suppressed, however, he requested witness statements for consultation purposes. 

State Prosecutor Liezel Landman did not oppose the request and indicated that witness statements would be made available to the defence. 

The trial was postponed until Tuesday due to the unavailability of an interpreter. 

African News Agency (ANA)