Taxi shooting: New prosecutor says they have new info

2015-09-23 14:38
Family members of the accused packed the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

Family members of the accused packed the Durban Magistrate's Court. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban – The taxi shooting case involving President Jacob Zuma’s nephew and taxi boss Mfundo Gcaba and 11 others was adjourned on Wednesday for further investigation.

The 11 men had made their second appearance before Magistrate Vanitha Armu for a formal bail application at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

The men, along with a twelfth suspect who is recovering at Addington Hospital, were on Friday charged with three counts of murder, two of attempted murder and another of public violence for their involvement in last week’s deadly shooting at the Brook Street taxi rank.

State prosecutor advocate Khumbu Shazi, a special advocate from the National Director of Prosecutions Organised Crime Unite, replaced Barend Groen, who had presided over the matter on Friday.

Obtaining evidence

Shazi applied for an adjournment, because she needed more time to consult with the investigating officer.

“We received these dockets on Monday, September 21 and were told the accused appeared on Friday September 18. Essentially we had two days to prepare for the bail application.”

She told a packed courtroom 11 of the accused were present and the twelfth was still in hospital.

“We are not ready to proceed with the bail application, because there are essential investigations pertinent to the application and evidence the state wants to present we do have at the moment.

“We are in the process of obtaining the evidence,” Shazi said, adding “new facts have come to the fore" since they had received the docket.

She said the court should consider when the accused were arrested seven days ago, there were initially 23 suspects.

Defence argues against postponement

Defence advocate Jimmy Howse, representing William Kunene, Mfundo Gcaba and 10 others, opposed the application.

“I can confirm accused number 12 is still in custody in hospital. He was shot in the buttock and upper leg and both shots were from behind. The bullets are still lodged inside and he will be going to surgery today [Wednesday]. He might be out by Friday,” Howse said.

He was ready to proceed with the bail application.

“There is no need for an adjournment, because the only thing that has changed is the prosecutor. Essentially what my clients have been told is they must spend more time in custody, because we have a different prosecutor seeing the matter differently.

“Why should the accused have to suffer…My clients are in their mid-forties; they have families and they have businesses. They are confused as to why they are kept in custody.”

Responding to Howse’s concerns, Shazi said the investigating officer was working with the Department of Transport in gathering data on the accused.

26 firearms found at the scene

“This matter emanates from a complicated taxi war involving previous encounters that gave rise to the incident on September 16.

“We are waiting for information from the department to see which taxi associations the accused are from and if they were involved in the interdict. The information we have is they belong to the association interdicted. However, we still need to confirm.

“Seven of the accused were found with licensed firearm and five were found unaccounted for. A total of 26 firearms were found at the scene that day.”

She said two days was not enough and the investigating officer was still investigating further.

After listening to both arguments, Armu adjourned the matter until September 30 and October 1 and ordered the accused be kept in custody at the Westville Correctional Service Centre.

Howse made a special request for his main clients, Kunene and Gcaba, to be kept at the Durban Central police station cells.

After the adjournment Shazi was seen leaving the court under heavy police guard.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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