Widow and her ‘hit squad’

2012-02-12 09:51

The Eastern Cape High Court in Bhisho is expected to learn this week about the inner workings of an alleged hit squad that has been linked to a string of murders and attempted murders across the province.

Four men are in the dock alongside the woman who allegedly hired them to execute her ex-husband and a second woman, who the State claims was the link between the alleged hitmen and their client.

It is the State’s case that Xoliswa Dingalubala hired Vuyani Sibanda, Ntsikelelo Manani, Isaac Phiri and Makhaya Qwala to murder her ex-husband Nthuthuzelo Makeleni in May 2010.

Makeleni was gunned down in front of his children at his home in Quzini village, a few kilometres from Zwelitsha in King William’s Town.

The State further alleges that Ntombizodwa Latif put Dingalubala in touch with the four male accused.
All six have pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

According to previous media reports, the four alleged hitmen have been linked to a string of similar crimes.

It was previously reported in the Daily Dispatch newspaper that police had linked the four to other murders, including:
» The murder of King William’s Town policeman Sandile Duka, also in May 2010; and

» Two murders and an attempted murder in Mdantsane, East London.

Police have confirmed that there is evidence linking the accused – whose ages range from 33 to 69 – to all of these crimes.

In the Makeleni case, the prosecution is expected to be seriously boosted by a man who turned State witness and is due to testify about his role in the murder – while also pointing the finger at the six accused.

This high-profile trial restarted last week after being postponed last year.

Last year’s delay came after it emerged that defence lawyer Lawrence Colani – who was representing Dingalubala – did not have the right to appear in the High Court.

In court last week, old evidence was revisited.

This included testimony from several witnesses, including Makeleni’s wife Noluvuyo, his nephew Nkosinathi Magwaca and investigating officer, Colonel Sonwabile Nkosiyane of East London’s organised crime unit.

Another witness, Lelethu Marele last week told Judge Mandela Makaula she had given her late father’s gun to her boyfriend and it had been returned with several bullets missing.

Her boyfriend is now a section 204 witness – the State witness who will testify against the accused in exchange for indemnity from prosecution.

He is in protective custody.

Marele told the court that her boyfriend gave the gun to Manani, who is accused with Phiri of actually shooting Makeleni.

The trial continues.

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