Granting Sithole's attackers bail is risky - police

2015-05-13 19:54


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Johannesburg - Allowing two of the men accused of robbing and killing Mozambican national Emmanuel Josias Sithole to be released on bail would be a risky move, an investigating officer told the Alexandra Magistrate's court on Wednesday.

"They can be attacked at any moment. It's too risky for them."

Bheki Mhlongo was being cross-examined by Vhonani Matshidza, for  Sizwe Mngomezulu and Sifundo Mzimela, both aged 21.

Mngomezulu, Mzimela, Mthinto Bhengu and a 17-year-old allegedly stole cigarettes from Sithole, a vendor, and attacked him when he confronted them on April 18.

He died as a result of a single stab wound to the chest.

Sithole's death occurred during a wave of xenophobic attacks in April. It started in townships around Durban and spread to Gauteng.

At least seven people, including three South Africans and Sithole, were killed. Scores were injured and displaced. 

Mathidza had asked Mhlongo whether a bail condition requiring both men to present themselves at the Alexandra police station would be a consideration.

Mhlongo said the men's faces were already in the media and the street to the police station had many street vendors outside who may recognise them.

Matshidza told the court there was no proof that there was a real threat to the men's lives were they to be released on bail.

"There are no actual threats. It's what one of their mothers is thinking [may happen]."

His clients intended on pleading not guilty to the murder and aggravated robbery charges against them.

"It is clear the deceased died as a result of a stab wound. There is no way that both men can be convicted of murder. It is clear that the chances of proving robbery are also very slim."

The only charge Mngomezulu and Mzimela were willing to plead guilty to was to assault and with the intention to commit grievous bodily harm for physically attacking Sithole.

"He did not die on the spot... They had no connection to the death."

The state's case against Bhengu was complete and ready for trial, the court heard.

Prosecutor Jacob Tloubatla told the court the defence had not done enough to show the court what exceptional circumstances existed to prove why the two men should be granted bail.

"This is an extraordinary case that needs extraordinary measures [taken]. I submit that bail should be refused for both the accused."

Magistrate Syta Prinsloo postponed the matter to May 18 for her judgment.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime

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