Zondi accused confess

2009-03-04 00:00

AN expected routine court appearance yesterday became a highly charged confessional when a woman and three men accused told magistrate Ashin Singh that they wished to make statements about the murder of respected Professor Samuel Zondi (71) last month.

Singh asked if the four wanted to make statements to a magistrate in private and they answered in the affirmative.

He warned the accused that a statement to a magistrate is a court document and could be used against them. They said they understood his warning.

The accused are Jabulile Hilda Ngcobo (24), Sakhile Bongani Hlongwa (20), Mzwandile Zwane (20), and Mondli Mervin Cele (22). Co-accused Gugu Pretty Ndlovu (34) pleaded guilty to robbery before Singh and said she has a previous conviction for fraud.

The women are from Pietermaritzburg and the men from Mpumulanga near Cato Ridge.

Prosecutor Pranisha Kasool asked Singh to stand down from the matter, which he did, and four magistrates were assigned to take statements from the accused.

It is expected that their statements will be placed before court today.

Professor Zondi lived in secure premises in Pelham and it is believed that the gang gained entry when two women pretended they wanted to consult him about making a video at a function.

Police gained a lead to his murder when one of his credit cards was fraudulently presented at a store.

The shop assistant, who knew the professor, alerted his family in Durban, who drove to Pietermaritzburg and found his body in his flat on Friday, February 20. Police said he was tortured, burned, trussed and gagged.

One of his credit cards was used for the fraudulent purchase of R4 340 worth of goods at the Spitz shoe store in Durban on February 18 and another used to spend R215 at Milky Lane on February 17.

Initially it was thought that the court would remand the accused in custody only until April 15 for applications for bail, but they will appear again today.

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