ANC murders: accused given time ‘to think’

2012-10-12 00:00

A BAYING crowd at the Ramsgate Magistrate’s Court yesterday greeted a second suspect appearing for the murders of ANC councillor Wandile Mkhize and his friend.

But again the court granted a postponement, on this occasion for Kwanele Cedric Hlongwane (40).

Magistrate V Diza told Hlongwane he had a month “to think” and organise legal representation.

Diza reprimanded Hlongwane, saying that he was acting against the interests of his co-accused, Dumisani Sikhakhane.

“You are delaying your co-accused … I suggest you make arrangements sooner than later,” she said.

After the court’s decision, shouts of “hai, hai” came from the public gallery, many of whom had spent much of the morning toyi-toyiing and holding placards calling for the conviction and sentencing of the two men.

In the gallery was Gauteng-based Deputy Minister of Higher Education Mdu Comfort Manana, who had driven from Durban where he had been at a meeting on Wednesday.

In his request, Hlongwane had told the court: “I want to appoint my own attorney … I have not instructed anyone yet … I will need another month … Money is a problem … I’m trying to come up with the cash.”

When he arrived at court in a police van, protesters ran after the vehicle, shouting, “Hey, hey. You killed him!”

Police joined hands to form a barrier to keep the crowd in the street and out of a parking lot in front of the court building.

Hlongwane alighted from the vehicle dressed in the green and yellow colours of a South African Football Association T-shirt.

Once in the holding cells, he changed into smarter attire — a green collared shirt, formal black jacket and jeans.

While Hlongwane did most of the talking during yesterday’s hearing, Sikhakhane remained silent, dressed in a striped hooded jacket and jeans.

The two men are alleged to have murdered Mkhize, who was District Municipality Chief Whip, and his friend Nhlakanipho Shabane, in Manaba in June. They had been on their way home from the ANC policy conference.

Their deaths marked the first of a spate of political killings on the South Coast.

Last month, Oshabeni ANC branch chairperson Dumisani Malunga and his friend, Bheki Chiliza, were killed. Three people have been arrested. One of them, Sifiso Khumalo, pleaded guilty, and has been sentenced to 22 years in jail.

He said during his trial that he and Malunga were among four ANC members vying for the position of Oshabeni ward councillor.

It had been suggested to him that Malunga should be killed to facilitate his election as councillor, and he had agreed.

A by-election is due in the ward next month to fill the seat of councillor Ntombehle Gcabashe, who died in August.

This week, IFP leader Bongani Lushaba died in a hail of bullets, also in Oshabeni. Although he had stood as candidate in last year’s local government elections, he was not scheduled to stand for election in the by-election of November 7.

Yesterday’s hearing was postponed to November 15.

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