Bush knife murder: two acquitted

2009-11-11 00:00

THE state yesterday stopped its prosecution of two of the eight men on trial in the high court here for the murder of an 18-year-old twin, Andile Shabane, in February 2008, as there was no evidence implicating them in the killing.

Judge Anton van Zyl, sitting with assessors, acquitted Nazia Bhekani Soni (27) and Mhlekazi Jerome Shezi (29) of murder.

Afterwards, the case was stood down while state advocate Adelaide Watt consulted the two former accused, but later the court was informed that the two men would not give evidence for the state and might instead be called as defence witnesses.

It emerged later during the testimony of the investigating officer in the case, Sergeant Z.D. Mkhize, that an alleged accomplice who was expected to give evidence for the prosecution in the trial — Thelebona Ndwandwe — has vanished.

Mkhize told the court he last saw Ndwandwe when he and a colleague went to obtain a statement from him several months ago.

His relatives have told police that they do not know his whereabouts, and a cellphone number he gave Mkhize is no longer in operation.

The court has heard evidence that a large group of males had arrived at the Shabane residence two nights in a row last February looking for Andile Shabane.

Shabane had been charged with the murder of a fellow scholar at Mlulama High School, Sbongiseni Phakathi, and it is alleged that the assailants were motivated by revenge.

He was allegedly slain with a variety of weapons, including bush knives and battle axes.

His body was recovered at the Mlulama School in the early hours of February 8 last year.

His twin brother, Ayanda, who is in a witness protection programme, gave evidence describing how he and Andile had been hunted down by a group of attackers and took refuge in a dam on the night of February 7, 2008.

Ayanda was injured and was admitted to hospital after being rescued by members of the community and police. His brother was allegedly fetched from the homestead where he had been taken by police, and then murdered.

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