Glebelands 8 trial: Witness says R160 000 raised for assassination of hostel chair and hitman

2020-03-20 13:47
The trial of the men accused of murder at the Glebelands hostel in Umlazi has been adjourned to next year.

The trial of the men accused of murder at the Glebelands hostel in Umlazi has been adjourned to next year. (Nompendulo Ngubane, GroundUp)

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A reward of R160 000 was put up for a hitman to murder William Mthembu and Thokozani Machi, known as the "big fishes" at Glebelands hostel in Umlazi, north of Durban.

Mthembu was believed to be controlling the chairpersons of various hostel blocks and Machi was said to be his hitman, according to a state witness, who testified via camera in the Glebelands 8 Trial, which is being heard in the KwaZulu-Natal High court in Pietermaritzburg, GroundUp reported.

The eight accused - Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele - face 22 charges, including nine for murder and seven attempted murder charges.

READ | Glebelands trial: 'Money collected from hostel residents was used to fund violence'

Both Mthembu and Machi were shot and killed on 12 September 2015 in Montclair.

Under cross examination by State prosecutor Dorain Paver, the witness on Thursday told the court what he saw on the day Mthembu and Machi were killed.

Witness

He said he was returning from work on a Saturday around 14:00 when he saw two cars.

"The cars were parked near block 52. Inside the Nissan, which was a sedan, there was Zikhu Mtolo, Mbhele (accused number 8), Mcobothi (accused number 3) and Mbuthuma (accused number 2). Mbhele, Mbuthuma, Mtolo and Mcobothi were carrying guns. I asked Bonga [alleged hitman Bonga Hlophe, now deceased], what had happened. He said they were going to kill Mthembu. After that the sedan car took off."

Bonga asked if he wanted to accompany them and so they followed in a double cab, the witness said.

Paver was asked why he agreed to accompany Bonga.

"I wanted to see if they would really kill these people. The police [officer] I was working with gave me an instruction to keep my eyes on them, so that I could see what they were up to.

"We followed them with Bonga. We stopped near Shoprite in Montclair. The sedan was parked, but the four occupants were not there. It was only the driver who was in the car. The indicators were on. We heard the gunshots going off. Bonga called the driver of the sedan car asking if they were done. I could not hear his response," he said.

The witness said they immediately drove down a road, past the Shoprite.

"Mcobothi, Mbuthuma, Mbhele and Mtolo were there. The ones who had been shooting occupied the front seats of the double cab. Others went into the back, including myself. The car got onto the freeway back to Glebelands hostel. When we reached the gate, Bonga started hooting. Other residents, including women, were there celebrating and firing shots. During the celebrations, Mbuthuma injured himself with his own firearm," said the witness.

The witness said the next morning secretaries from different blocks collected money from the residents. He said he was then called into a meeting in one of the rooms of a resident by the surname of Ndlela.

"In that meeting, Mcobothi, Mbhele, Bonga, Mdweshu and Nathi Shezi were present. They were having a conflict about who would be given the R160 000 for killing Mthembu and Machi. The money was on the bed. It transpired that Mdweshu and Bonga didn't want to give the money to the people who had done the job. They ended up getting R10 000 each.

"Mdweshu argued that what they had done was a crime, so the money should be saved to pay lawyers and investigating officers to make the case disappear, should any of them get arrested. The money left was taken by Mdweshu and Bonga," said the state witness.

The case will resume on Monday, when the witness will be cross examined by advocate Martin Krog, representing Mdweshu and Ntshangase.

Read more on:    durban  |  political killings  |  crime
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