Twist in ANC double murder case

2016-07-07 11:26
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Pietermaritzburg - The bail application by the man charged with shooting dead two ANC members at Imbali took an unexpected twist on Wednesday.

This was as a result of an allegation by the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Bonginkosi Ngcobo, that the accused — Bonginkosi Mbuyiselwa Shabalala (40) — is in fact a member of the EFF, and not the ANC as was widely reported previously.

The killings were reportedly believed at the time to be linked to political in-fighting within the ANC over the upcoming elections.

Yesterday’s bail hearing was again accompanied by huge public interest with a crowd of people holding placards and toyi-toyiing outside court in protest against Shabalala being given bail.

Shabalala’s attorney Phumlani Fakude told magistrate M. Boikhutso that his client “strongly denies that he is an EFF member”. He has stated in his affidavit that he is an ANC member. Fakude also objected to the fact that the EFF allegation was not raised in the policeman’s initial affidavit in which he opposed bail for Shabalala. Fakude said the affidavit by the officer that was read in court yesterday was “completely different” to the original one the defence was provided with, thereby not giving the defence a chance to reply to various allegations.

In reply, prosecutor Thandeka Mkhize confirmed the affidavit was not the same as the original one, but said the defence was “not supposed to prepare” its evidence based on the state’s affidavit.

After considering the matter the magistrate said she wanted more information regarding Shabalala’s alleged links with the EFF.

Boikhutso said this development can “change the whole angle” of the bail application.

She instructed the investigating officer to come to court with evidence of Shabalala’s EFF links when the case resumes tomorrow.

Shabalala stands accused of gunning down ANC members Phethetheni Ngubane (50) and Badedile Ntshapha (56) after the two women had left an ANC meeting in Imbali on June 8.

In his own affidavit in support of bail, Shabalala said he “vehemently” denies involvement in the shooting of the women. He also said he believes he has been accused because of “bias and a measure of politicking” because the ANC faction to which he belongs was seen as opposed to that of the women.

He also said that he has no ambitions to become a councillor.

In his affidavit the investigating officer expressed concern for Shabalala’s safety if he is released on bail.

“The deceased [victims] are ANC supporters whereas the accused is an EFF member. It is a well known factor that the ANC supporters and EFF supporters are in [sic] loggerheads countrywide,” he said.

Ngcobo said even at court community members were “divided into two groups” with some supporting Shabalala and some the families of the victims.

He said it was confirmed by ANC followers and a councillor Nene that Shabalala was “no longer an ANC member and that he last attended ANC meetings in February 2016”.

“After that he kept on threatening the ANC volunteers that if they keep on attending ANC meetings he will come with his supporters and kill everybody in the meeting. In that way most of the people are scared to attend meetings in the area.”

Ngcobo said there is political intolerance in KZN ahead of the local government elections and it is important for the state to “act firmly” against people identified to be perpetrators of violence so that society could live without fear.

“The perpetrators of violence like the accused before court should be kept in custody until the case is finalised,” he said.

Ngcobo rejected Shabalala’s evidence that he voluntarily handed himself to police in connection with the charges.

He said Shabalala was “arrested in town” in possession of a black bag in which a firearm was found. “At no stage did he voluntarily hand over his firearm to police. It was discovered that his permit to carry the firearm had expired,” said Ngcobo.

He said police are still waiting for ballistics results regarding ownership of the firearm.

Ngcobo added that a “dying declaration” by one of the shooting victims is not the only evidence police have. He said the state is also relying on “eye witnesses”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  anc

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