Murder accused ‘mistakenly’ took victim’s cellphone

2015-09-24 09:27
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ONE of the three men charged with murdering school principal Nokuthula Magwanyana admitted he “mistakenly” removed her cellphone from the crime scene but denies any involvement in killing her.

Magwanyana, principal of Villa Maria Primary School, was found hacked to death in her car on Table Mountain Road on August 26 amidst allegations that she was the victim of a campaign to intimidate her to resign as principal.

Thamsanqa Ngcobo (30), who described himself as a self-employed fruit and vegetable vendor, and two other men, Nkosiphindile Zuma (19), and Mduduzi Mkhize (22), have been charged with her murder and robbery and are applying for bail before regional magistrate Chris van Vuuren.

A crowd of protesters who are opposed to the trio getting bail again gathered on the street outside the courthouse yesterday singing, chanting and carrying placards. The police tactical response unit was on standby to ensure the crowd did not become unruly and come too close to the court precincts as had happened last week.

This time security was prepared and the crowd was held at bay behind the fenced-off area around court.

Ngcobo testified in his bail application that he and his co-accused stopped when they saw the school principal’s car stationary on the wrong side of the road.

He said he got out and approached the vehicle and “could see a female inside”.

“I shouted, ‘Sister, sister’. I could see blood on the vehicle and the door was open. It was suspicious,” he said.

Ngcobo said the victim didn’t respond. He had picked up a cellphone from the passenger seat and tried to contact the police with it but he could not use it because it “had no buttons”.

“I then continued carrying the cellphone in my hand.”

Ngcobo said he flagged down another car. The man in it said he knew the principal as a “teacher in the area”. He appeared to phone someone.

Whilst they were on the scene an unmarked car with police arrived and stopped.

Ngcobo said after “showing the police” they then left the scene.

Asked what he did with the cellphone, he said he was “shocked and confused” and only realised when he got home that he was still carrying it and that it didn’t belong to him.

Under cross examination he denied he had sold it, but said he took the cellphone to a shop to be repaired.

“I didn’t take it to the police because the police were aggressive to us as they were suspecting us because they found us at the scene,” he said.

“There is nothing linking me to this case except for the cellphone which was with me by mistake,” he said.

Asked if his life would be at risk if he got bail because the residents are angry, Ngcobo said the community was “not the problem”.

“The community knows that I am not the kind of boy that is notorious.

“Even those that suspect me of involvement [in the murder] will at the end of the day know that I am innocent,” he added.

Zuma told a similar story, but said he wasn’t aware that Ngcobo took the victim’s cellphone at the scene.

When Ngcobo subsequently told him he had the cellphone Zuma had “criticised and warned” him and said he must return it, he said.

Both men testified that they did not know the victim.

The bail application will continue on Monday

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  murder  |  court

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