Wanted taxi boss in custody

2015-03-27 00:00

NOTORIOUS taxi boss and former politician Elias “Sputla” Mpungose will spend the weekend behind bars.

Mpungose faces a charge of murder and two of attempted murder and appeared in the Madadeni Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.

He handed himself over to Hawks investigators on Tuesday, and was not arrested in a pre-dawn swoop as was previously reported.

His attorney, Mondli Thusini, confirmed that Mpungose had been remanded in custody and would appear again on Tuesday.

He has, in the past, evaded multiple murder charges.

He had been previously accused of the murder of rival Ulundi taxi boss Samson Mthethwa in Mahlabatini in 2012, but charges were withdrawn last year after the main witness linking him to the murder disappeared.

In 2007, Mpungose was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape of a 14-year-old girl, who was later murdered. In 2011 he was released when the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the judgment against him.

Celukuphila Mlambo, the girl Mpungose was convicted of raping, never got the chance to testify against him. She was gunned down in her home near Nongoma in northern KwaZulu-Natal, along with her mother, Bulawelani Myaka, and 13-year-old cousin Sipho Ndawonde, a week before she was due to take the stand.

The Vryheid high court heard during the 2007 trial how an AK47 was used in the killings, which occurred a week before Mpungose’s trial.

The court was told the Myaka family had turned down Mpungose’s offer of R10 000 or 10 cows to withdraw the rape complaint.

Mpungose was initially charged with three counts of murder in connection with the deaths, but due to a string of witness discrepancies, the murder charges were dropped.

He was convicted of rape and was handed a life sentence, which was later overturned on appeal in 2007.

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