Muthi murder suspect walks

2011-05-20 00:00

MAFAKHATHINI traditional healer Mduduzi Manqele (48) flung his arms in the air and shouted for joy yesterday, startling people in the magistrate’s court, when the state withdrew murder and kidnapping charges arising from the case where the head of 18-year-old Loyiso Jokweni was found in a freezer at France location earlier this year.

Manqele’s supporters danced and sang as they later left court.

Jokweni went missing on December 26, 2010, and his head was subsequently found in a freezer at a house in France which was occupied by Roger Thusi (31), who is also charged for the murder.

The court was told that Thusi is to be indicted to go on trial in the high court from August 10 to 19 this year for the killing.

He is in custody awaiting trial after being denied bail.

Manqele, who was initially alleged by the prosecution to have masterminded the murder, beheading and mutilation of Jokweni’s body for muthi purposes, was released on bail of R10 000 on February 28 after Thusi was said to have reneged on earlier statements he allegedly made to police, and changed his mind about entering a guilty plea to the charges.

At that time the state declined to withdraw charges against Manqele pending finalisation of forensic tests which were being carried out on items seized from a dungeon at the traditional healer’s plush home in Mafakhathini.

The state did not reveal yesterday whether or not the test results are now available, but simply informed the court that Manqele was free to go as far as the kidnapping and murder charges are concerned.

However, Manqele will still face trial on a charge of unlawfully keeping a protected African Rock Python in his dungeon as well as a charge of cruelty to animals.

He is due to appear in court in connection with these two charges again today.

In line with the reduced charges, Manqele’s bail was also reduced to an amount of R2 000 yesterday, and certain aspects of his bail conditions were relaxed.

A bail condition which banned him from entering the Mafakhathini area has now also been lifted.

When Manqele applied for bail in February, members of the Mafakhathini community were up in arms and arrived at court en masse to protest.

They also filed a petition with the court voicing fears for their safety if he were released on bail.

Following his arrest, the outraged community set fire to his property in Mafakhathini and also burned down the house in France where Jokweni’s frozen head was found.

The court heard that Manqele’s assets include a house worth R750 000 in Merrivale, 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 is married with six children.

When the prosecution announced the withdrawal of the murder and kidnapping charges yesterday, Manqele threw up his arms and cried out the equivalent of “Thank you God” in isiZulu.

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