Bail in Maqatha case

2019-08-08 16:46
Msunduzi councillor Nkosinathi 'TK' Gambu.

Msunduzi councillor Nkosinathi 'TK' Gambu.

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In granting Msunduzi councillor Nkosi­nathi “TK” Gambu (pictured) and four others R10 000 bail each on Wednesday, a high court judge lambasted the political killings task team.

Judge K.Q. Hadebe said in a reserved bail appeal judgment handed down in the Pietermaritzburg high court that she had to say something about the allegations made by the men relating to the conduct of members of the task team who arrested them.

Gambu, Skhayiso Zima, Sifiso Mbelu, Ayanda Ngubane and Gift Zungu were arrested for the murder of Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu in May last year. They had complained about how they were treated at the time of their arrests and shortly afterwards.

The judge said: “Should the country not be worried if such serious allegations get made against an elite group of senior investigators? Political murders are a huge thorn in this country but especially in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

“There is no doubt that a solution for this problem needs to be found and has to be found soon.

“One life lost is one too many. I am, however, under no illusion that such solution does not include the deprivation of rights of suspected perpetrators. Law enforcement is enjoined also by the Constitution of the land to protect suspected and arrested person’s rights,” she said.

She said the conduct allegedly embarked on by members of the task team “needs to be scorned upon by the courts and needs to be treated with the utmost contempt it deserves”.

She said the court is also in possession of the men’s previous attorney’s affidavit. He said he was undermined, ridiculed and even verbally threatened by the same members of the task team. He was in most instances denied access to his clients.

The judge said the allegations made by the men indicate that they suffered extensively at the hands of the police and they were shuffled from one police station to another.

Sight must not be lost that the members of the team are elite, having been hand-picked from various units from all over the country.

“One would want to believe that such selection would be based on the level of experience and training of such members to serve in a task team of this nature,” Judge Hadebe said.

The judge said that after Mchunu was gunned down and when the men found out that they were suspects, they immediately surrendered themselves to police. They were arrested four months after they had voluntarily approached the police.

The judge said that the prosecutor, Rene Padayachee, conceded during a second bail attempt by the men that none of them were ballistically linked to the murder.

She said the magistrate did not give this fact any attention and the consideration that it deserved.

“This does impact on the strength of the state’s case and the gravity of the charges against the men,” the judge said.

She added that the men’s personal circumstances show that they are not flight risks. Except for Gambu, who is a councillor, the bulk of the men do menial jobs for the ANC and have meagre earnings on the side, she said.

Their attorney, Sipho Ngubane, said bail should have been granted from the outset and he is pleased with the latest court decision.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  maqatha murder case

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