Court refuses plea to stop murder trail

2014-07-03 00:00

A JUDGE yesterday refused a defence ­application to stop the murder trial of five men charged with orchestrating two ambushes on a taxi operator at Kranskop in 2006.

The defence wanted the trial to start afresh.

The application was based on arguments that the accused wouldn’t get a fair trial if the matter proceeded, because one of the two assessors who started the case — Sundeep Singh — has been struck from the roll of attorneys and is no longer available to continue.

Singh was struck off the roll in April as a result of allegations that he stole R876 736,50 from a widow, Radha ­Govender, who was due to receive the money from the Road Accident Fund.

Acting Judge K. Hadebe said yesterday it was clear that under the circumstances Singh was unable to continue to sit as an assessor in the trial.

However, there was no suggestion of any unfairness caused to the accused whilst he was acting as an assessor.

Citing case law in support of her ruling, the judge said in her opinion it would result in unfairness if the trial had to start again. She said there were sufficient safeguards in the criminal justice system to ensure a trial was fair, even if there was only one assessor.

The judge said the fairness of a trial is not restricted only to the interests of the accused, and the state’s interests also had to be considered.

Acting Judge Hadebe said the trial of the five accused had started “way back” in 2011.

Last year in July the entire court had to go to the Nkandla area for an inspection in loco. She said at least six state vehicles had to provide transport for all those who were required to attend, at great expense to the state.

The case has reached the defence case.

The accused are charged with involvement in two attempts on the life of a ­Johannesburg taxi operator, Mdumiseni Patrick Jali, in the Kranskop area in ­December 2006.

Two teenage girls, Nokuthula Bhengu (15) and Cebisile Xkakaza (17), who’d got a lift with Jali, were shot dead in one of the incidents when gunmen opened fire on Jali’s vehicle.

The state alleges the incidents were the result of ill feeling between Jali and one of the accused — Bhani Ngubane — who were both members of the Alexandra Taxi Association in Johannesburg at the time.

Ngubane was suspended by the taxi association and allegedly believed Jali had something to do with it.

The accused on trial are Mndeni Nala (31), Bhani Ngubane (41), Sipho Ngubane (45), Thula Ngubane (36) and ­Sukumani Ngubane (27).

All of them have pleaded not guilty.

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