Court told of failed hit on taxi owner

2012-07-06 00:00

A MAN serving 25 years in jail for the murder of two teenage girls and attempted murder of five other people during a botched ambush near Kranskop in 2006 told the high court in Pietermaritzburg that money was one of the motives for taking part in the attack.

The intended target of the ambush on December 31, 2006, taxi owner Mdumiseni Patrick Jali, escaped unscathed.

Thembinkosi Joel Mjobo gave evidence for the state yesterday against five men he identified as co-perpetrators.

In 2008 he pleaded guilty and was sentenced for the murder of Nokuthula Bhengu (15) and Cebisile Xakaza (17) and the attempted murder of five other people.

The victims were shot when Mjobo and others set up an ambush and opened fire indiscriminately on a bakkie driven by Jali, who lives at Ekhatha near Kranskop and owned taxis operating in Johannesburg.

Jali drove off unhurt after the shooting, in which Bhengu and Xkakaza died of head injuries. Two other passengers, Sholiphi Jali and Thembekile Ndlela, were injured.

The state alleged in its indictment against the five accused on trial before acting Judge Khosi Hadebe and assessors that the attack was the second attempt on Jali’s life in a matter of weeks. The first incident allegedly occurred on December 23, 2006, when he escaped with minor injuries.

The five accused, Mndeni Nala (31) and brothers Bhani Ngubane (41), Sipho Celani Ngubane (45), Thula Netha Ngubane (36) and Sukumani Ngubane (27), have pleaded not guilty to involvement in both incidents. They face a total of nine counts of attempted murder and two of murder.

Mjobo testified that he and his former friend, Nala — who now denies knowing him — had been offered R30 000 by the Ngubane brothers to kill Jali. They ended up being paid R600 each because Jali survived.

Under cross-examination by the defence yesterday, he said his reasons for agreeing to participate in the murder plan were his friendship with Nala, his need for money and that if he had not gone along with the plan his own life would have been at risk.

Mjobo testified that according to what he had heard, the Ngubanes wanted Jali “out of the way” because they said he was responsible for the removal of Ngubane’s taxis from routes in Johannesburg.

The state alleges that in 2006 Jali and Bhani Ngubane had been members of the Alexander Taxi Association. When Ngubane was suspended from the association he allegedly believed Jali had played a part in this.

Jali testified last year that he had offered a lift to the teenagers who were killed shortly before his bakkie came under fire.

The case will proceed next Tuesday.

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