Durban – Bail application proceedings got underway on Monday, in the State’s case against seven accused, including a police officer, charged with conspiring to murder residents at uMlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel complex.
Heard in the Durban Regional Court before Magistrate SS Hlophe, advocate Jimmy Howse, instructed by attorney Andile Dakela, read into the record the affidavits of accused Khayelihle Mbuthuma, 32; Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, 45; policeman Bhekukwazi Louis Mdweshu, 37; and Ncomecile Matlala Ntshangase, 34.
They, along with Mbuyiselwa Mahliphiza Mkhize, 28; Vukani Mcobothi, 25; and Mondli Talente Mthethwa, 28; face 17 counts of conspiracy to murder, attempted murder and murder and the illegal possession of ammunition and firearms. They were all arrested in December 2017.
Magistrate Hlophe insisted on the affidavits being read, and then translated into isiZulu, for the benefit of the packed public gallery.
Howse said for all the accused there was “no direct eye witnesses in most of the charges of [all the accused] involvement”.
In pleading “special circumstances”, Howse said that while Mbuthuma had been arrested for another murder charge in July 2017, he had been exemplary in keeping within those bail conditions and would continue to do so if released again.
Shembe church member Hlophe had two children and was engaged, according to Howse. Hlophe was initially only arrested for attempted murder but had since had several more charges added to the charge sheet.
“He has been unfairly linked to the charges. There is no direct evidence in the vast majority of cases,” said Howse.
In the case for Mdweshu’s bail application, Howse said the police detective had been suspended without pay. He said it was “suspicious” that he was arrested “under the umbrella of common purpose”.
He said the State had no evidence against the plain-clothed detective and the witnesses the prosecution planned to present “want to wish him harm”.
Howse said the father of twin girls would be able support his family including his mother and cousins, if he was released from jail because the South African Police Service (SAPS) would reinstate his salary while he was suspended.
Howse said of Ntshangase that there was no direct evidence linking him to any of the charges. He said Ntshangase was a maintenance technician for the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa, earning R18 000 a month and had no reason to be part of the alleged extortion and murder racket.
Ntshangase, who stood at no more than 5ft 2 inches tall, was a member of the “Church of the Holy Ghost” in KwaMashu and his wife, who is a teacher, lives in Butterworth, Eastern Cape with their two children.
According to the charge sheet, the accused “and certain other persons conspired to form a syndicate with the common purpose to kill persons residing at Glebelands in order to take control of the aforesaid hostel and thereby acquire control of payments made by dwellers at the hostel”.
The remaining three accused will be represented by another legal team, which will address the court on March 28.
African News Agency/ANA