Court hears gory details of decapitation

2011-02-25 00:00

A PACKED Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court heard grim details yesterday of how Mafakhathini traditional healer Mduduzi Manqele (48) and his co-accused Roger Thusi (31) of France allegedly drugged Loyiso Jokweni (18), placed him on the back seat of Manqele’s Hummer vehicle at midnight, drove him to a river and there cut off his head and genitals.

The severed head and genitals were then placed in a dish allegedly provided for that purpose by Manqele and taken back to a “dungeon” at his homestead in Mafakhathini.

This evidence was led in the course of bail application brought on behalf of both accused before magistrate Bessie du Preez yesterday. Judgment will be given on Monday.

The state is opposing bail being granted to Thusi, against whom the police believe they have a strong case, but the state is not opposing Manqele’s release on bail as there is currently only “potential forensic” evidence linking him to the crimes.

This is the result of a change of heart by Thusi. He changed his mind about pleading guilty to the murder charge, allegedly because Manqele had offered to pay him R1 million to “stop his plea”.

Investigating officer Captain ­Piet van Zanten said Thusi initially did a pointing out to police, made a confession to a police officer and said he wanted to plead guilty. When he appeared at the high court on a Monday. Thusi had said he was “tired” and didn’t want to plead on that day. On the subsequent Wednesday he changed his mind about pleading guilty.

Van Zanten said Thusi later told him this was because Manqele had offered to pay him R1 million.

Van Zanten said Jokweni’s frozen head was found in a freezer in the home that Thusi shares with his girlfriend in France. His girlfriend is a state witness in the case.

Van Zanten said in his confession that Thusi had stated that Manqele came in a vehicle to pick him up at midnight on the night in question. There was a dish and knife in the vehicle.

He said further that Jokweni was “drugged by some powder placed in his nose and mouth which made him pass out” and the accused loaded him into the back seat of Manqele’s Hummer and drove to the river.

Manqele had carried Jokweni down to the river on his shoulders.

“Accused one [Thusi] was told by accused two [Manqele] to bring the dish and the knife to the river which was done … the body was placed in such a way that the head was facing the water.”

Thusi alleged it was Manqele who cut off Jokweni’s head. The knife was then given to Thusi who was ordered to cut off the genitals. “Accused one says he opened the pants of the deceased and cut the genitals off as instructed.

“Both the head and genitals were then placed in the dish and the body was hidden in the long grass in the river.”

The two accused then drove back to Manqele’s homestead in Mafakhathini where they took the dish with the head and genitals down to his “dungeon” at the back of the house. Manqele took out the genitals, then placed R1 coins in each ear of the head and told Thusi that he was to “look after this head as it will make him very rich”.

Thusi stated that Manqele wrapped the dish — with the head inside — in two plastic packets, gave him R30 taxi fare and sent him home. At home he placed the head in the deep freeze section of the fridge.

Van Zanten said that Manqele was arrested on the strength of Thusi’s statement, and that police had carried out a forensic investigation of his homestead and dungeon. A preliminary report indicated that blood was detected on some exhibits.

Manqele’s advocate, Martin Krog, suggested to Van Zanten that the state “should be withdrawing the charges against him as they have nothing” linking him to the murder other than a “confession” by Thusi who has since indicated he will dispute its admissibility on grounds that it was “forced”.

In affidavits before the court both Thusi and Manqele said they intend pleading not guilty to the murder charge.

State advocate Sagren Naidoo said it is clear that Manqele is a wealthy man. In his affidavit Manqele revealed he owns a house worth R750 000 in Merri-vale, a house worth R2,5 million in Mafakhathini and three vehicles — a 4X4 worth R420 000, a Hummer worth R570 000 and a Nissan worth R50 000.

He said in his affidavit he is a traditional healer who runs his business from his home. He is also involved in building a shopping centre at Msinga.

He has a wife and six children.

Manqele stated that if released on bail he would live at Merri-vale where he will “be safe”.

Outraged community members set fire to Manqele’s Mafakhathini property after his arrest and burned down the house at France where the frozen head was found.

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