DURBAN – State advocate Dorian Paver elicited gasps from the Durban Regional Court on Tuesday, when he revealed that he had been placed under 24-hour-security because he had received death threats for taking on the case of the Glebelands Seven.
Paver asked Magistrate SS Hlope to consider “who would benefit” if he was killed before the trial started or during the course thereof.
African News Agency (ANA) understands that the “hit” on Paver had been solicited from a cellphone used inside prison and relayed to police via an informant.
Paver was arguing against the bail application being sought by Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, Durban central detective Bhekukwazi Louis Mdweshu, Ncomekile Mtalala Nstshangase and Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, all of who are currently in custody.
Accused seven, Mondli Thalente Mthethwa, has abandoned his bid for bail because he is standing trial on an unrelated murder. Mbuthuma, also abandoned his bid for bail as he was found guilty of murder on April 3, of a Glebeland's Hostel grandmother, under common purpose, and was sentenced to life in prison.
All of the accused are being charged under common purpose for crimes including murder and attempted murder that took place at the hostel between 19 August 2014 and 26 March 2016.
According to the charge sheet, the men conspired to form a syndicate with the common purpose to kill Glebelands' residents in order to take control of the hostel and acquire control of payments made by hostel dwellers.
Paver told the court that he was seeking a swift prosecution and that it was up to the magistrate to discern “on the balance of probabilities” if the accused would interfere with witnesses if released on bail.
Advocate Jimmy Howse, acting for Hlophe, Mdweshu and Ntshangase, said his clients would not skip bail as they were entrenched in their communities and had assets and employment to return to.
He also questioned the credibility of the State witnesses as they came from an opposing faction at Glebelands hostel. He said a trend had developed where prosecution withheld the identities of witnesses, making it impossible to know whom the accused could associate with if they were released on bail. He said the inference that the accused would kill witnesses was “patently incorrect”.
Lawyer Peter Mhlongo, for Mcobothi and Mkhize, said it was “common knowledge” that incidents at Glebelands had reached a global audience and that there was pressure to make arrests. His clients had found themselves caught up in the need to find culprits, he said.
He said that in the State’s own affidavit it made mention of opposing factions at the hostel, throwing doubt on the credibility of state witnesses.
“There is no case against them. There is no explanation how they are linked to the crimes committed.”
The case was postponed to April 26, for judgment on the bail application.
African News Agency/ANA