Ashburton case to be moved to high court

2011-04-04 00:00

THREE men charged in connection with the murder of Ashburton resident Bob Hudson Bennett (61) earlier this year, abandoned their application for bail before Pietermaritzburg magistrate Amanda Bezuidenhout on Friday.

Their decision followed the revelation that the state has received notice from the office of the director of public prosecutions that the accused are to be indicted to stand trial in the high court. A trial date is expected to be set soon.

The state opposed bail to the three accused on grounds that there is a strong case against them, as well as the gravity of the charges and the fact that they face possible minimum sentences of life imprisonment if convicted.

The accused, Mzwakhe Mdlalose (19) Sandile Mncwabe (21) and Sphamandla Mkhize (22) of Imbali were allegedly members of a robber gang that broke into Hudson-Bennett’s home in A.P. Smith Road on the night of February 5 and stabbed him to death.

He was alone at home at the time. His body was found in the passage and various items were missing from the house.

Members of the Organised Crime Unit, led by Warrant Officer Derek Coetzee arrested the three accused, as well as two other suspects, in Imbali on February 25.

The Witness has reliably learned that two of the alleged accomplices are expected to testify for the state in the matter. A sixth suspect is still on the run.

Police have confirmed that various items were recovered during the arrests, including a blood-stained dagger, believed to be the murder weapon, allegedly found at the home of Mdlalose. Police also recovered a computer containing personal files and photographs of the Hudson-Bennett family.

Police have established that at least one of the accused was implicated in a series of armed robberies on farms and smallholdings in the Thornville area last year, but charges were withdrawn against him and his co-accused in December.

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