DURBAN – Seven men accused of being involved in brazen inner-city taxi violence in Durban that left one person dead and several injured have enlisted the help of top criminal advocate Paul Jorgensen, in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Thursday.

Jorgensen is currently also representing former KwaZulu-Natal member of the executive council (MEC) for economic development and convener of the interim African National Congress (ANC) KwaZulu-Natal leadership, Mike Mabuyakhulu in his corruption case involving a fake jazz festival.

The seven men are accused of having “stormed the taxi rank” in Brook Street, adjacent Durban’s old inner city cemetery, and firing several shots before escaping in a Toyota Quantum taxi at about 5pm on April 27.

According to the charge sheet, the men are accused of killing Mkhali Christopher Madondo and are also accused of the attempted murder of Thulani Mdondo, Khaya Dlamini and Bongumusa Mzobe. They also face charges of illegal possession of firearms, including AK47s.

Shortly after the shooting, the Pinetown police task team pursued them in a high speed gun chase along Chelsea Avenue, New Germany, until they abandoned their vehicle and ran into a building about two kilometres later in Scott Road, Pinetown.

The crack police squad, the National Intervention Unit, was called in to diffuse the situation, which ended in 16 arrests and 17 firearms being seized including nine rifles, a shotgun and seven pistols.

However, nine of the suspects have since been released. The remaining accused in custody are Langelihle James Bailey, 34, from KwaMashu; Agripa Phumlani Siyaya, 33 and Bonisile Lili, 25, of New Germany; Bhekisisa Mhlongo, 36, of Claremont; Jehliselo Dladla, 35, from Wyebank;  Maziwa Philani Nzama, 36,  of Ndwedwe; and Mandla Masango, 50, of Tongaat.

Wearing shoes with no shoelaces and in casual wear with one wearing a T-shirt saying “keep it local”, the court ordered the media not to take any photographs as the men were still due to appear before an identity parade.

Jorgensen is being instructed by Durban attorney Sandile Shoba.

 “The men before you are not all of them who were arrested which will become relevant at the bail application. At least one has claimed of being assaulted by the police,” said Jorgensen.

State prosecutor Calvin Govender said the identity parade had not yet taken place as the witnesses were not available.

“Two of the complainants are still in hospital. We must wait for them to be discharged,” said Govender.

Magistrate Mohamed Motala postponed the matter to May 17, to follow-up on the identity parade process and set the case down for bail application on 12, 13 and 15 June.

The accused have been remanded to the Durban Central prison.

African News Agency/ANA