DURBAN – The trial of eight men -- including a police officer -- accused of running a crime syndicate that included hitmen for hire at uMlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel, was postponed on Monday at the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
The trial was supposed to start on Monday but was postponed to Wednesday, so that some of the accused -- who are seeking private legal representation -- could resolve payment matters with their instructing attorney, Andile Dakela, and secure the services of an advocate.
Former police officer 37-year-old Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, who is accused one, and co-accused Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, 45, and 28-year-old Khayelihle Mbuthuma had hired Dakela as their instructing attorney last year. However, Dakela told the court he had not been paid.
The men were seeking the services of well-known Durban advocate Jimmy Howse, who represented them in their failed bail bid last year. However, Howse was not paid and would not be representing the men, Dakela told the court.
Dakela said that he was told the men had then hired a new instructing attorney and a new advocate. But the accused said they wanted Dakela to remain as their attorney until all representation was sorted out.
The remaining accused are Ncomekile Ntshangase, 34; Vukani Manenze Mcobothi, 30; Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, 29; Mondli Talente Mthethwa, 29; and Bongani Mbhele, 33. They will be represented by Legal Aid South Africa.
Mdweshu faces one count of racketeering for being the alleged leader of the murderous cabal and one count of extortion. All of the accused are charged with being part of a racketeering enterprise for crimes that took place at the hostel between August 2014 and March 2016.
The remaining counts are predicate offences and include nine counts of murder, seven of attempted murder and possession of illegal firearms and ammunition.
Mdweshu allegedly ran the syndicate along with since deceased Bonga Hlophe, the leader of the “Hlope gang”, whom the rival “Mthembu gang” assassinated in 2015.
African News Agency (ANA)