Alleged Phoenix cop’s killers get R5 000 bail
Durban - TWO suspects accused of killing Warrant Officer Theena Pillay were allegedly hired to “eliminate” him.
This emerged during the bail application of Mbhekiseni Ncanana, 36, and Thobani Ngema, 30, at the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The accused, from KwaMashu, face charges of murder. They are employed as rank managers for the Bester Taxi Association.
Pillay, 48, was shot and killed outside his mother-in-law’s home in Woodview, Phoenix, last December. He managed to return fire before succumbing to his injuries.
A suspect, Lindani Ncanana, who is Ncanana’s brother, was also killed.
It was believed that Pillay was targeted because of his investigations into the drug trade in Phoenix.
In April, a suspect linked to the killing was arrested in Phoenix by members of the Durban Serious Organised Crime Unit. He was later released.
Ncanana, a father of six, and Ngema, a father of three, were arrested on September 1.
In their affidavit for bail, they said they were arrested by the police at the Shell Garage in Malendela Road, KwaMashu.
Ncanana claimed he was taken to the offices of the Durban Organised Crime Unit, where he was assaulted and told to confess.
He further stated the State’s case against him was weak. Ncanana has two previous convictions for being in possession of unlicenced firearms. There was also a case of common robbery against him that was withdrawn.
In his affidavit, Ngema claimed he was taken to the KwaMashu Police Station, where he was assaulted by the police. He further claimed he was also forced to sign a statement.
Ngema said the State’s case against him was also weak.
In 1999, he was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for robbery. Ngema served two years. The remainder was suspended on condition he did not commit a crime in that period.
Both suspects said they were the breadwinners of their families. They claimed they could only afford bail of R2000 each.
Detective Warrant Officer Themba Richard Ngcobo, from Durban Organised Crime Unit, testified.
He said they had a witness in protection, who placed the accused at a meeting prior to the shooting.
“The witness also places both the accused at the crime scene and being paid for killing the police officer by the main suspect, who is yet to be arrested.”
Ngcobo said they were waiting for cellphone analysis placing the accused at the first meeting, the crime scene, and the place where they received the payment.
“Both the accused were part and parcel of eliminating the police officer. They were hired to kill the deceased.”
Ngcobo opposed bail due to the safety of witnesses in the cases.
“We have another potential witness. Their lives will be in danger.”
The accused were granted bail of R5000 each. The matter was adjourned to November 2. They will have to report to the KwaMashu Police Station every Saturday before 6pm.
If they fail to abide by these conditions, they will be rearrested and kept in custody until the matter is finalised.
The court was unable to accept the submission that the life of the witnesses were in danger, as one was in witness protection.
“It defeats the purpose of the protection,” said magistrate Rajesh Parsotham.
It also found there was some doubt in the strength of the State’s case at this stage.