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

2020-03-19 15:49
The “Glebelands Eight” return to the Glebelands hostel under heavy police guard for an in loco inspection.

The “Glebelands Eight” return to the Glebelands hostel under heavy police guard for an in loco inspection. (Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane)

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The trial against the "Glebelands Eight" resumed in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg this week with an in loco inspection at the Glebelands hostel in Umlazi, Durban, and testimony from a key State witness.

The eight accused face 22 charges, including nine of murder and seven of attempted murder, GroundUp reports.

They are Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele.

The hearing resumed on Monday, six months after it was postponed in September 2019 when a State witness testifying in camera told the court how he was forced to flee the Glebelands hostel. He had received several threats for being a hindrance to hitmen living in the hostel.

During a brief appearance on Monday, Xolani Sindane, the Legal Aid attorney representing Mbuthuma, Mcombothi, Mkhize, Ntshangase and Mthethwa, applied to court for an in loco inspection at the hostel.

He argued that the inspection was necessary to disprove the testimony of the State witness who had implicated his clients in the killing of Siniko Ncayiyana in 2014.

Judge Nkosinathi Chili granted the inspection.

The next day, under heavy armed police guard, the accused, along with the full court convoy, went to the hostel. At the scene, Sindane demonstrated to the court that the State witness could not have seen what he alleged.

'I left because I was scared'

On Wednesday, the State's fourth witness, who has been living under witness protection, began his testimony via camera.

He told the court that he moved to Glebelands Block 47 in 1997 and in 2014 moved to Block 52, where he shared a room with the mother of his two daughters and another man.

"After I was expelled by one of the block secretaries, I got a new shack at Mega Village close to Mega City. I left because I was scared," he said.

The witness said he only returned to his room after some hostel residents approached him to go back.

Also read: Forensic evidence dominates Glebelands 8 trial

He said meetings were then held with Bonga Hlophe (now deceased), one of the alleged hitmen, about who was to be attacked in different blocks.

The witness described how money was collected from residents to pay lawyers and investigating officers so that cases against the perpetrators in the hostel would disappear.

He also testified that Mdweshu had hatched the plan to attack Block R and discussed the plan in William Mthembu's garage.

"Mdweshu, Mcombothi, Nathi Shezi and Lucas Ndlovu were present, and others I cannot remember were there," he said.

Announcement of attack

"Mdweshu said he had a police friend he worked with in Durban Central police station who promised to sell him an R5 gun [rifle] for R9 000. Bonga then ordered the secretaries of the blocks to collect the money from the residents.

"We were never told how much money was collected. Some of the money was taken by Bonga and Mbhele."

Two days later, he said, Mdweshu, Eugene Hlophe and Mkhize were present when Mdweshu announced that they would attack Block R.

Read: 8 Glebelands Hostel 'hitmen' conspired to form money collecting association, court hears

"Mdweshu said we will meet next to the swimming pool. I found Mdweshu already there. Ntshangase looked for the guns in the bag and loaded bullets. Mdweshu said Ntshangase would use the AK-47 because he knew how to use it. Mdweshu used the R5," said the witness.

He added he was told to be a lookout for police. After the shootings, he said he found Mdweshu between Block 46 and 47 with a thigh injury.

"He was with Mcombothi, Eugene and Ntshangase," said the witness.

State prosecutor Dorian Paver asked how the witness knew Mdweshu was injured.

He responded: "Mdweshu told us that 'those dogs from Block R hit him'. Mdweshu was taken to hospital in his car by his cousin."

The trial continues.

Read more on:    durban  |  pietermaritzburg  |  courts  |  glebelands hostel  |  crime

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