Copesville community members bring city to a standstill

2014-10-17 00:00

TRAFFIC came to a halt as a massive dancing, toyi-toyiing crowd chanted their way to court yesterday in support of 15 people arrested for the “vigilante” murders of two men earlier this month.

Pietermaritzburg’s riot police were on standby as the hundreds of protesters gathered in Church Street outside the public library for several hours awaiting the outcome of a bail application by the accused. They are charged with arson and murder of Nathi Gwala and a man identified as “Rasta” at Ezinketheni near Copesville on October 6.

The eight women and seven men — one of whom was still in hospital recovering from injuries — were eventually granted bail of R500 each, but only on condition that they don’t go back to Copesville. They must move to the alternative addresses they provided to court.

The oldest accused is a 68-year-old woman.

The victims, who were suspected of criminal activity, were torched to death at Ezinketheni near Copesville by a mob of up to 200 people, prosecutor Rene Padayachee told magistrate Ntsoaki Ndawonde. “The community apparently decided to take the law into their own hands,” she said, adding the strongest reason the state had to oppose bail was the seriousness of the case.

The investigating officer was also concerned for the safety of witnesses in the matter.

Andre Chetty, who appeared for the defence, said the arrests of the accused had in some instances created “child-headed” households at home, and others were gainfully employed and could lose their jobs if they had to stay in jail.

“They are also grandmothers and mothers,” he added.

Chetty pointed out that the crowd gathered outside court were there in support of the accused.

Ndawonde said that while she agreed the accused should get bail, the families of the victims and state witnesses in the case had to be protected.

In the circumstances she said the accused had to make arrangements to resume their lives at the alternative addresses they gave, some as far afield as Greytown. She warned that if they breached their bail conditions by returning to Copesville, warrants for their arrest will be issued.

People ran from court to break the news that bail was granted, raising their fists and shouting in triumph, causing a joyful stampede along Otto Street outside the court building.

The crowd of about 300 to 400 protestors initially threatened to stone cars in the Copesville area earlier yesterday, but once the police arrived to escort them, the group, equipped with long sticks, ran at almost full pace all the way down Old Greytown Road, heading to the courts.

The group bellowed out songs as they waved their sticks in the air and at motorists passing by. Running, the crowd passed Prilla Mills and Northway Mall heading into town. Motorists shook their heads and waved their hands angrily, but only after the group were well away.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.