Murder: IPF five walk free

2013-02-13 00:00

FIVE Inkatha Freedom Party members walked free yesterday after being discharged on charges of murder and attempted murder.

The charges arise from an incident in which ANC members came under fire while celebrating an election victory in April 2008.

Acting Judge M. Xolo found at the end of the state’s case that prosecution witnesses had not been able to identify the five men as the shooters on the day.

The men are Qaphelani Richard Gumede (33), Zwelemphi Stofela Gumede (71), Funinkosi Mkhonto Gumede (41), Mphathiseni Gumede (29) and Busani Qiniso Gumede (21).

They stood trial for the murder of ANC supporter Zinisele Hlongwane (19) and the attempted murders of Sindisiwe Mnyandu, Gladys Gcumisa, Nomkhosi Phakathi, Thenjiwe Gwala, Nonhlanhla Kweyame, Njabulo Mkhize and Phumzile Mnyandu.

The victims were in a motorcade that travelled through an IFP stronghold in Swayimane to celebrate an ANC victory on the day of the elections.

The judge said he agreed with defence submissions that the evidence submitted did not identify the accused as the assailants.

Twelve state witnesses had testified. Four said they had seen the accused at the scene of the incident and that they “could have been” the perpetrators.

None could tell the court what role the accused had played in the shooting or what firearms they carried.

The judge said it had therefore not been proved that the accused were the shooters and they were entitled to a discharge.

Zwelemphi Gumede said he was delighted that the ruling had vindicated the accused. He looked forward to putting the matter behind him. Gumede said the trial had caused him and his family great distress and cost a lot of money.

Ayanda Kune, a cousin of the murdered Hlongwane, said the ruling left the family without closure. “We have to trust that God will be their judge,” he said.

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