Vigilantes waiting for alleged girl killers

2011-04-06 00:00

TWO pupils from Mafakatini —Thembeleni Ngcobo and Bhekumuzi Shange (both 19) — will remain in custody pending trial for the alleged gang rape and murder of a young woman whose disembowelled body was found in the area on December 18 last year.

A third accused, Sipho Mkhaye (20), was granted bail by magistrate Bessie du Preez, after the State withdrew its opposition to his release on grounds that there was little evidence linking him to the offences other than statements made by his co-accused to police, which can’t be used in court.

The results of DNA tests on bloodstained clothing seized from all three accused are still outstanding, the court heard.

Du Preez granted Mkhaye bail of R2 000, on condition that he leaves the Mafakatini area for his own safety.

Evidence led at the bail hearing of the trio this week was that the murder victim’s sister, Bawihile Mthalane, had an argument with the accused at a tavern the previous evening and allegedly called them “loafers”.

Thembeleni Ngcobo is charged with assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm for allegedly stabbing Mthalane, but his co-accused were not implicated in the stabbing.

The state alleges however that afterwards, all three accused tried to follow Mthalane home and lost sight of her. Later they allegedly arrived at her home, knocked, and her sister, Sali Mthalane (22), opened the door. She was dragged outside, raped, killed, and her body sliced open from her genitalia to her chest.

Investigating officer Warrant Officer Zwelibunzi Ntshele told the court that he fears for the accused’s safety if they are released on bail as the community is very angry.

He initially said Ngcobo and Shange made confessions concerning the crimes, but later agreed that they merely made admissions to police when warning statements were taken from them.

Du Preez said there is a “vast difference” between the two and said a warning statement by an accused does not have the same evidential value as a confession. However she said it was not necessary for the bail court to determine the strength of the state’s case.

She ruled that Ngcobo and Shange failed to show any exceptional circumstances entitling them to bail, and remanded them in custody until their next appearance on May 3.

The director of public prosecutions has given notice of an intention to indict the accused to stand trial in the high court.

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