Suspects deny double murder

By Drum Digital
14 June 2017

Johannesburg - The two men charged with killing two young women in Soweto last month claim they are innocent.

Alec Magaula Mamothame, 43, and Sandile Nkosi, 25, appeared in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday morning to apply for bail before Magistrate Herman Badenhorst.

They are accused of kidnapping, robbing and killing close friends Bongeka Phungula and Popi Qwabe on May 12.

Qwabe, 24, was found dead near Naledi High School. She had been shot and left for dead. Soweto West police cluster commander Major-General Fred Kekana said a passer-by found her and took her to Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Jabulani, where she died on arrival.

Less than 24 hours later, her close friend Phungula, 28, was found in Tladi, a neighbouring township. She had also been shot in the upper body. Police suspect she was raped.

Both women were originally from Mayville, Durban.

Mamothame and Nkosi, both taxi drivers, were arrested on May 21.

Mamothame’s lawyer Themba Tshabalala read out an affidavit in which he stated that on the evening of May 12, a Friday, three men and two women got into his minibus. He claims that the three men attacked him and hijacked the taxi near Zola.

“I am not sure if those two ladies were just passengers or if they were part of the plan,” he said.

He managed to escape from the moving vehicle and returned to where the taxi owner, Johannes Mkhwanazi, parked his taxis overnight and told him what had happened.

The two men went to the Jabulani police station to open a case. While there, a vehicle tracking company told Mkhwanazi that his minibus was in Mapetla.

According to police at the scene, two or three men jumped out of the minibus and ran away, the court heard.

'I am innocent'

Mamothame said he found lipstick in the taxi. He suspected it belonged to one of the two women passengers. The men returned to the parking area to drop the vehicle off, escorted by police.

“I had nothing to do with the kidnapping, murder and robbery of anyone,” Tshabalala read.

Nkosi told the court through his lawyer Harry Bonnke Maluleke that Mkhwanazi instructed him to park the vehicle. While doing so, Nkosi heard a cellphone ringing. He found it in the minibus and answered to find out who the owner was. He had no luck getting information from the person on the other end of the line and decided to keep it.

A week later, his mother called him, saying police were at their home looking for him. He lives with her. When he arrived, officers arrested him for being in possession of the cellphone, he said.

“I accept that the charges against me are serious but I deny any involvement. I am innocent of the charges proffered against me. The State’s case is weak and no evidence links me to this offence. I did nothing wrong,” Nkosi said in his affidavit.

Both lawyers called Mkhwanazi as a witness. He testified that Mamothame had been working as his driver for more than 10 years. He corroborated what both men said.

He told the court he only realised the men had been arrested when police arrived at his parking area to take fingerprint evidence from the vehicle.

“I heard their screams while the police were busy being physical with them in the car. That is when I realised they had arrested them.”

The matter was postponed to Monday for further evidence to be led in the bail hearing.

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