Family in court: Swayimane IFP chairman and his father among accused

2009-05-04 00:00

FIVE men from one family, facing charges of murder and seven counts of attempted murder, made their first appearance at the Camperdown Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

They are 71-year-old Zwelempi Gumede and Siphiwe (23), Busani (19), Mzamiseni (20), and Funinkosi Gumede (41), who is the Inkatha Freedom Party chairman in the Swayimane area.

In their appearance before the court yesterday, the five accused had their names added to the charge sheet of Mphathiseni Gumede (29), who appeared last week.

They are charged with the murder of Zimisele Hlongwane (19) and the attempted murder of seven ANC supporters.

Originally seven suspects were arrested, but one was released.

They apologised on behalf of their lawyer, who could not attend, and asked if they could apply for bail in his absence.

The magistrate allowed them to do so, but the prosecutor opposed bail and they were told that their lawyer should meet the prosecutor and the investigating officer.

The magistrate said a pointing-out parade will be conducted in the presence of their lawyer.

All the accused were remanded in custody and the case was postponed until May 13. Two of the accused, including the IFP chairman, are siblings and the 71-year-old man is their father.

The court was packed with the families of the accused, including the Hlongwane family and those of the seven injured people, ANC leaders in the Swayimane area and journalists.

State witnesses were asked to leave the courtroom.

Hlongwane’s sister, Nobuhle, said she was pleased the accused were denied bail. “I was there when my brother was killed. He was celebrating his first opportunity to cast his vote and we were ambushed.

“It was horrible. We hid in the bushes for more than two hours and when we came out my brother had been killed.”

One of the injured is still in hospital. The Mayor of Mshwati, Marshal Gwala, said the youngest of the injured is 15 years old.

A crowd of ANC supporters picketed outside the court, calling for bail to be denied.

About three minibus taxis and private vehicles brought more than 50 ANC supporters to the court.

They were wearing ANC T-shirts and sarongs bearing Jacob Zuma’s portrait.

Protesters carried ANC posters that read: “Mababhadle ejele ababulali” meaning murderers should rot in jail.

Although permission to hold a public gathering had not been obtained, arrangements were made to accommodate the protest inside the police station yard adjacent to the court to avoid possible public disturbances.

The protest was held in a peaceful manner and a bigger crowd is expected on May 13.

sandilez@witness.co.za

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