The Nyanda homestead in Shongweni, where five people were killed. Photo: Sandile Ndlovu.

The only man to stand trial for the Shongweni massacre last month claimed in the Pinetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday that he had been coerced by police into confessing to the murders.

It is alleged that he and brothers Philani and Bhejane Nxele killed Sthembiso Nxusa, 29, shot his pregnant girlfriend and raped her 13-year-old sister. The men then allegedly moved to another home, where they shot dead five people, including an eight-year-old boy and a two-year-old girl.

The Richmond man may not be named until he pleads, as he is also accused of rape.

Police believe the three were also responsible for the murders of four people at Mariannhill. However, the man has not been charged with those crimes.

The Nxele brothers have both been killed by the police.

Yesterday, Legal Aid lawyer Ndu Thuketani told magistrate Ambigabathi Kistan that the 23-year-old would plead not guilty.

“I and another colleague consulted with the accused, and he says he is pleading not guilty. He says he was influenced (to confess to the crimes) and assaulted by police under threat that he would be killed.”

Thuketani said his client said he had always indicated that he was not guilty, but was forced to say otherwise.

Prosecutor Elaine Khuzwayo said she had handed in the indictment and the matter would be postponed to January for further investigation.

“Material witness statements are still outstanding; the ballistics reports and DNA analysis for the rape charge are also outstanding.”