Professor murder suspects in court

2009-02-25 00:00

The public gallery in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court was packed when two women and three men charged with the murder and robbery of Professor Samuel Zondi (72) appeared in the dock yesterday.

The retired professor of commerce at Natal Technikon and part- time lecturer at the University of KZN died a brutal death in his flat in Alexandra Road last week. Police said he had been tortured and burnt.

Members of the organised crime unit under the command of Superintendent Pete Scott arrested six suspects in Pietermaritzburg and Mpumulanga (Hammarsdale) on Monday. Five accused appeared yesterday before magistrate Paul van Dongen.

It is believed the sixth suspect is a state witness.

The accused in court yesterday were Gugu Pretty Ndlovu (34), Jabulile Hilda Ngcobo (24), Sakhile Bongani Hlongwa (20), Mzwandile Zwane (20) and Mondli Mervin Cele (22).

They were not asked to plead and the hearing was postponed to March 4 to give them an opportunity to arrange for legal aid.

The accused face charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances and two counts of fraud relating to the use of Zondi’s credit card. It is alleged that R4 340 was spent at a clothing store, Spitz, and R215 at Milky Lane between February 16 and 20.

Sources close to the investigation said Zondi arranged to meet two women — one of whom he knew well — at his flat on the evening in question to discuss making a video or taking photographs at a function, his hobby.

This ruse was allegedly used by the gang to gain entry to his premises.

Zondi’s body was discovered at Moyra Mansions in Pelham last Friday night, February 20.

He stayed at the flat during the week, returning to his family home in kwaMashu at weekends.

Police said he was found gagged and with his hands tied behind him.

Parts of his upper body were burned and some furniture in the flat had been set alight.

Investigations established that Zondi’s credit card was used at stores in Durban on Wednesday and Thursday last week.

A shop assistant who knows Zondi became suspicious and telephoned his wife to ask about the transactions.

When family members were unable to contact him they drove to Pietermaritzburg and called a locksmith to open his flat.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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