A lonely figure in the dock

2012-02-08 00:00

NOW charged with fraud and perjury, the man who claimed he was the dead maskandi artist Khulekani “Mgqumeni” Khumalo cut a pathetic figure in the dock at Nquthu Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Sphamandla Gcabashe (29) stood quietly as he faced magistrate Mphumeleli Nkosi, avoiding the gaze of those who had been permitted to enter the small courtroom.

Outside the court, the crowd swelled as the morning progressed, with curious onlookers who had come to see the fate of the man some believed was their beloved award-winning maskandi artist.

Police kept the crowds at bay, sealing the entrance to the court with police tape and only admitting close relatives and the press.

In sweltering heat the crowds waited for six hours to hear the outcome of the hearing.

Gcabashe arrived at court under heavy police guard and was chained with shackles.

He spent the morning in an office at the court house where he made a statement. Police at the entrance did not allow anyone near the office he was in.

The excitement around his appearance disrupted other court cases set down for the day.

Gcabashe, wearing an oversized jacket and breathing hard, opted to apply for legal aid. He appeared to be in a state of shock.

Prosecutor Sam Mphogose applied for a seven-day remand for Gcabashe to undergo mental observation and for further investigation, saying the state still needs the address of the accused and to gather information on his police profile.

Gcabashe’s legal aid representative said he would be applying for bail.

Mgqumeni’s widow, Nonhlanhla Majola, who had said she believed Gcabashe was indeed her husband, because of the marks he has on his body, sat in court with family members, quietly waiting for him to appear.

Sphamandla Mseleku, Mgqumeni’s uncle, said the whole experience had been painful for the family. He said he was arrested and assaulted by police at the weekend along with other family members for saying that Gcabashe was not their dead relative.

He said they were looking to the justice system to protect them, and were considering bringing charges against the police.

Gcabashe will be back in court on February 14 for a bail hearing and the report on his mental state.

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