Court declines application for discharge of five murder accused

2013-07-22 00:00

THE Pietermaritzburg high court has refused an application for the discharge of five accused who are facing multiple charges of murder and attempted murder.

The charges arise from two attempts at ambushing and killing a Kranskop taxi owner, Mdumiseni Jali, in December 2006.

Mdumiseni survived both attempts on his life on December 23, 2006 and December 31, 2006, and escaped with only minor injuries.

However, two teenagers, Nokuthula Bhengu (15) and Cebisile Xakaza (17), to whom he’d given a lift on December 31, 2006, died of gunshot wounds to their heads when gunmen with AK47s and revolvers opened fire on Mdumiseni’s bakkie.

Mdumiseni, his mother, Sholiphi Jali, Thandeka Nyezi, Bongiwe Ngubane and Thembekile Ndlela survived that attack.

Mdumiseni and three family members, Zamakahle, Zibuke and Nkosikhona Jali, also all survived the earlier ambush.

The state alleges that the five accused — four of whom are brothers — in the case disliked Mdumiseni, who was also a member of the Alexandra Taxi Association in Johannesburg at the time of the incident.

They allegedly decided to kill him after a dispute arose over the fact that one of them, Bhani Ngubane, was suspended from the association.

The five accused, Mndeni Nala (31), Bhani (41), Sipho Ngubane (45), Thula Ngubane (36) and Sukumani Ngubane (27), have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The defence applied to the court to grant the accused a discharge on the grounds that the evidence presented by the prosecution was not strong enough to convict them.

However, Acting Judge Khosi Hadebe disagreed and in a judgment delivered on Friday, said there is evidence against the accused that they must answer.

This included evidence given by Mdumiseni, who identified Bhani as one of the two attackers who shot at his bakkie on the first occasion, and also testified that all four Ngubane brothers had been among the perpetrators of the second ambush.

The state also led the evidence of an accomplice to the crimes, Thembinkosi Joel Mjobo, who pleaded guilty and is serving a 25-year jail sentence for taking part in the second ambush on Mdumiseni’s vehicle.

State advocate Roan du Preez submitted that Mjobo was an independent witness who did not even know Mdumiseni at the time, and was not associated with the taxi problem that motivated the attacks.

The case was postponed to July 24.

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