Mafaktini healer given bail

2011-03-01 00:00

AN impassioned petition by the Mafakatini community detailing their fears about “evil creatures” in the service of Mduduzi Manqele (48) failed yesterday to prevent bail being granted to the wealthy traditional healer.

Manqele is alleged to have masterminded the kidnapping, murder and decapitation of Loyiso Jokweni (18), whose head was discovered in a freezer in France location.

Manqele’s co-accused, Roger Thusi (31), at whose home Jokweni’s frozen head was discovered — and whose initial confession to police implicated Manqele in the crimes — was denied bail.

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Bessie du Preez said that although the petition contained “new facts” — highlighting fears by the local community for their safety if Manqele was given bail — the allegations in the document amounted to “pure conjecture and superstition” .

She granted Manqele bail of R10 000, but forbade him from “setting foot” in Mafakatini and ordered him to stay at his other home in Merrivale.

Du Preez found it unnecessary to order that he leave the Merrivale area as well, despite fears expressed in the petition that he had performed “all his malpractices” while living there previously, that the distance between the two areas is only 20 km and that many of the Mafakatini residents are employed or shop there and their children have to pass there on the way to school.

Du Preez said the state has so far failed to produce any evidence linking Manqele to Jokweni’s kidnapping and murder and he is not regarded as a flight risk. The Constitution states a person should not be incarcerated unless there is evidence of the commission of an offence.

The investigating officer, Captain Piet van Zanten, testified that since Thusi had changed his mind about pleading guilty, the only evidence linking Manqele to the crimes was “potential” forensic evidence from the tests carried out in the “dungeon” at Manqele’s Mafakatini homestead.

Thusi had alleged they took Jokweni’s head and genitals in a dish to the Mafakatini house.

The test results are not yet available, although a preliminary report showed the presence of blood at the scene.

On the other hand, Du Preez said, the evidence against Thusi appears “very strong”.

The state opposed his bail on grounds that he is unlikely to stand his trial if released; that the frozen head was found in his girlfriend’s home where he stayed; that he had made a pointing out and allegedly confessed to police; and that he is unemployed and has seven previous convictions (six for drug offences and one assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm). The state also fears he would interfere with state witnesses, including his girlfriend.

Du Preez said in the likelihood of a heavy sentence if convicted there would be temptation for Thusi to abscond. The victim’s head was found in the house where he stayed and he had made a detailed statement to the police.

Even though he now alleged the statement was forced out of him, it was “unlikely” that someone who had no knowledge of what happened could have provided such details.

IN their petition the community at Mafakatini said they would not be safe if Manqele was released. They alleged his family has passed comments that if he is released “all those who were complaining in the meetings about him will be dealt with”, and that a list has been drafted of people to be killed on his release.

The community claimed the Taylor’s Halt police station commander (who is Manqele’s neighbour at Merrivale) was told about the list “but simply ignored it”.

They also stated that Manqele is “well known for keeping evil creatures which collect dockets from court for accused persons” and said they fear that once released “his evil creatures will tamper with the investigations”.

COMMUNITY leaders from the Mafakatini area moved swiftly to calm irate community members yesterday after inyanga Mduduzi Manqele was granted bail.

Prior to the ruling, the community waited near the high court singing colourful songs such as Nkantolo dilika sibone uManqele (the walls of the courts must come down so we can see Manqele).

Other songs urged the court to release him so the community can “deal” with him.

Others had warned that should the court decide to release him on bail, the community would storm the court.

“If he is let out, we will all storm that court and we will be the ones who are kept in jail,” said a community member who refused to be named.

Zwe Magubane, the local councillor, prepared the community for the prospect of a bail for Manqele when he addressed them during at tea time.

“The situation is really intense in there as the arguments being delivered are tough; you [the community] should be aware that we might win or we might lose and whatever happens you should remain calm and united.”

And when the ruling was delivered just before lunch, the leaders had to move swiftly to maintain calm.

Community members said they were disappointed by the court’s decision to grant bail and they do not want to see Manqele in the Mafakatini area ever again.

“Quite frankly we do not want to see him even in Pietermaritzburg,” said one.

Leader Freedom Ntombela the people were disappointed, but it was important that they did not take the law into their own hands.

Despite the anger among the people outside the court, many seemed to use the three buses that brought them to town as a free ride to do their errands.

Most of the people again used the opportunity for shopping. Many were seen queuing at a local butchery, which doubles as a social grant pay point, to collect their grants. Fewer than one busload of community members were at the protest.

It seemed the patience of the organisers was wearing thin as they went around scolding community members who had travelled to the courts but were not participating in the protest.

“Why did you come here?” one angry woman asked a group of men sitting in the shade.

“You disappoint me, you Mafakatini men. When Manqele gets bail, the first thing he should remove all your genitals because you are not men.”

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