Sat, 30 May 2020

Glebelands witness denies involvement in murder

20 Sep 2019, 22:11 GMT+10

The KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Pietermaritzburg has postponed the case of eight men, accused of a spate of murders at the infamous Glebelands hostel in Umlazi in Durban, to March 2020, GroundUp reports.

The case is set down for March 2 and March 26, 2020 before it resumes in April, after the court recess.

All eight accused will remain in Westville prison, which is close to their relatives, according to State advocate Dorian Paver.

The eight men, Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele, face 22 charges, including nine of murder and seven of attempted murder.

A State witness who has been testifying in camera (behind closed doors) this week, finished his testimony on Thursday.

He told the court he was forced to flee from the hostel after receiving several threats for being a hindrance to hitmen who lived there.

The witness, who was a liquor hawker, testified about the murder of Sphamandla Cele, on March 24, 2016.

No one was arrested for Cele's murder. The witness told the court that he discovered that Cele had been killed when he saw him lying in the road at the hostel.

After Cele was shot, he said, he received threats from the police and Glebelands residents. The man said residents were influenced by some of the accused to protest against him. Police told him to leave Glebelands.

"The police asked me why I was still alive because other people are dying. They told me I must leave because I am a disturbance to the hitmen at Glebelands hostel. At the same time, some of the accused gathered the community to have a protest against me."

'The family was against me'

He said the residents had been told by "some of the accused" that he had killed Cele.

"I immediately left Glebelands, leaving behind my items. The only thing I took from my room was my clothes. A day after I left, the residents broke into my room. They took my documents. My furniture was stolen [and] the liquor that I was selling. They took my fridge, snooker pool table and all they wanted," the witness told the court.

Xolani Sindane, representing Mbuthuma, Mcombothi, Ntshangase, Mthembu and Mbhele, asked the witness if he was not linked to the death of Cele. The witness said he was not.

Sindane said Ntshangase (his client) had seen the witness killing Cele. According to Sindane, his client was in Block 17 when he saw the witness and another man attacking Cele.

"He is lying," said the witness.

Sindane asked if he had attended Cele's funeral. The witness said he had not.

"Some of the accused convinced Cele's family that I killed him. At the time, the family was against me. As time went on, I explained to the family what happened. We are on good speaking terms now," said the witness.

Hlophe's lawyer, Dianne Franklin, also cross-examined the witness about Cele's murder. She asked if he had left Glebelands - not because people had said he was disturbing hitmen, but because he had killed Cele.

"No", said the witness.

"Why didn't you report the death of Cele to the police? Was it because you were scared that you were linked?" asked Franklin.

"I did not report it at the time because I left Glebelands," the witness said. "My relatives had been killed, including Cele. I was confused as to how I will explain at home how my brothers had been killed," he said.

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