Some of the 14 men accused of the murder of Sabata Petros Chale in Marikana near Rustenburg. The men are appearing in the North West High Court sitting in Mogwase. Picture: ANA Reporter

Mogwase - Five of the 14 men accused of the murder of Sabata Petros Chale in Marikana were granted R5 000 bail each at the North West High Court on Wednesday.

Eric Marx, representing Aubrey Seitsang, Sibonile Sobopha, Mdlondozi Fundiwo, Herbert Baqhesi and William Nyenyane, told the court that the State was no longer opposing bail and requested that the five be released on R5 000 bail each.

They were in custody after the Rustenburg Magistrate's Court had earlier denied them bail.

The State alleges Seitsang, Sobopha, Fundiwo, Baqhesi, Nyenyane, Forum 4 Service Delivery councillor Napoleon Webster, Aphindile Pungone, Samson Gqwetani, Gift Luveli, Nkululeko Msithwa, Nkosindiphile Nziyose, Luvo Soyizwaphi, Sivuyile Qasha and Mzolisi Mbulana hacked Chale, 39, to death in Marikana West, on December 8, 2016, allegedly over the allocation of low cost (RDP) houses at Marikana West Extension 2.

Read more: Marikana murder accused was tortured until he urinated blood, court heard

The cause of his death was due to multiple injuries and sharp force trauma he suffered. The State alleges the murder was premeditated.

The case was postponed to May 21 for trial to continue.

Seitsang bowed his head and prayed silently as Judge Ronnie Hendricks granted them bail, while his wife seated behind him in public gallery clapped her hands. Other women bowed their heads and cried.

Outside the court, a group blew car horns to celebrate the release of the five men from custody.

All have pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder, with four of them claiming they were not at the crime scene while the other nine admitted they were at a community meeting that was held in Marikana, but disputed other allegations against them.

Also read: Grisly details emerge in Marikana murder case

In an admission statement which was provisionally admitted as evidence, Seitsang said he led a group of men armed with spears, pangas, axes and knobkerries to point out Chale's house.

He said Chale was killed because he was an African National Congress (ANC) member, and they were Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and they wanted to teach Chale a lesson for undermining the EFF.

"He was only giving RDP [low cost] houses to ANC members, Sabata thought he was clever and we wanted to teach him a lesson," he said.

The EFF took control of Marikana after the municipal elections in August 2016.

North West premier Supra Mahumapelo and former Housing Minister Lindiwe Sisulu had handed over two houses in the area to Piet Tlou and Dora Diremela as a symbolic handover of the low-cost government houses.
However, the EFF protested against the handing over ceremony and later occupied houses forcefully. The elderly Tlou and Diremela were also driven out of their houses.

African News Agency/ANA