Three in court for N3 cop killings

2015-04-14 18:15


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Johannesburg - A third man arrested in connection with the shooting of three police officers on the N3 highway appeared alongside his co-accused in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Tuesday.

According to the charge sheet, Nhlanhleni Nzama was arrested in KwaZulu-Natal last week for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. This charge was not connected to the N3 shooting.

He appeared in court with co-accused Vika Nzama and Sandile Nyathekazi.

He and his co-accused faced two counts of murder, a single one of attempted murder and one of possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

A charge sheet compiled last week showed that Vika Nzama and Nyathekazi also faced a charge of conspiracy to commit robbery.

It was unclear whether Nhlanhleni Nzama would also face that charge.

The group was alleged to have been part of a four-man gang which opened fire on three police officers patrolling the N3 highway last month.

The officers had stopped their vehicle close to the Modderfontein off-ramp.

Two of the officers, Constable Mthokoziseni Myeza and Maisha Mafokoane, were killed in the incident.

A third officer, Steven Mafanelo, was injured.

He was believed to have shot one of the gang members. The man, a Zimbabwean national, died after several days in hospital.

While it was unclear whether the two Nzama men were related, they had appointed the same private lawyer to represent them. Nyathekazi had his own lawyer.

When Vika Nzama and Sandile Nyathekazi first appeared before the court last week, their matter was postponed for an identity parade.

The two went for an ID parade last week and Nhlanhleni Nzama went on an ID parade on Monday.

Prosecutor Richard Mashobane indicated that the state was awaiting one more witness to participate in the ID parade.

The witness was out of the country and was expected back on April 24.

Magistrate Pieter du Plessis agreed that it was in the interest of justice for the men to be kept behind bars until the ID parade was finalised. 

Mashobane then told the court of the logistical woes faced by the investigating officer in the matter.

He explained that Nhlanhleni Nzama needed to be sent back to KZN, where he was initially arrested, as he needed to appear before the Kranskop Magistrate's Court in a separate case. 

Du Plessis said the police officers should make necessary arrangements to either have Nzama sent to Kranskop or have the matter postponed in his absentia.

Mashobane told the court that the State's case had several holes in it because they were missing some evidence, including the cellphone records of the accused.

Du Plessis argued that the accused should not be kept behind bars simply because the investigations were continuing.

He postponed the matter to April 28 when the three were expected to apply for bail.

In the interim, they would be kept in the holding cells of the Germiston police station.

The court gallery was packed to capacity ahead of the appearance of the accused.

On several occasions, Du Plessis threw out people who had not found space in the gallery benches.

He said it was a security risk for them to be lining the court aisles.

As soon as the proceedings adjourned, the court gallery was left almost empty.

It was unclear whether those who had attended the proceedings were related to the slain policemen or the accused.

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  crime
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