Trial of alleged priest killers continues

2012-02-23 21:30

Johannesburg - The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday dismissed an application by four men accused of killing a priest to have their case scrapped.

Kgaugelo Manzini, Thembalethu Sindane, Freddy Mahlangu and Jabu Ndebele, all aged between 18 and 22, applied for the charges against them to be dropped.

They are accused of killing and robbing Father Louis Blondel at his presbytery in Diepsloot, in 2009. The men argued there was insufficient evidence linking them to the murder.

Judge Natvarial Ranchod dismissed their application, but gave no reasons for his ruling.

Sindane, who claimed he was not present when the priest was killed, also applied for another charge against him - robbery with aggravating circumstances - to be dropped.

On Tuesday a fifth man, Nelson Malope, testified that the four planned the robbery with him, but were not in the room when he shot Blondel. Malope, who was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment last year after pleading guilty to Blondel's murder, said the others knew he had a firearm.

The State alleges the four acted with a common purpose when they broke into the presbytery, and that Malope had carried and used the firearm on the whole group's behalf.

Manzini, 21, testified that he and his three co-accused were drinking in a shebeen when Malope asked them to accompany him to another shebeen.

While on their way there, they passed the presbytery and Malope suggested they enter it to steal computers. He claimed he waited at the door while the others went inside.

He was not even aware that anyone was armed until he heard a shot and saw Mahlangu and Ndebele emerge with a computer. Manzini admitted carrying a computer, but said he left it in nearby bushes after the shooting.

Sindane, who was 16 at the time, said he was neither at the shebeen nor the house, but had been falsely implicated after pointing out the others to the police. He claimed the other four arrived at his house and asked him to stash and sell a stolen computer and cellphone.

Mahlangu and Ndebele both admitted being at the scene, but claimed they knew nothing about the firearm and were shocked when they heard a shot.

The trial continues.