Groups clash as suspects face court

2018-09-21 15:45
Supporters  of slain  ANC activist Musawenkosi ‘Maqatha’ Mchunu face off against supporters  of murder accused councillor Nkosinathi ‘TK’ Gambu outside the magistrate’s court on Thursday.

Supporters of slain ANC activist Musawenkosi ‘Maqatha’ Mchunu face off against supporters of murder accused councillor Nkosinathi ‘TK’ Gambu outside the magistrate’s court on Thursday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Matters threatened to get ugly outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday as two ANC groups pelted each other with stones, eggs and corn cobs.

Supporters of slain ANC activist and former councillor, Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu, and supporters of murder accused Msunduzi ward 10 councillor, Nkosinathi “TK” Gambu, faced off outside court as Gambu and his co-accused made a second appearance on Thursday.

Police had to intervene on several occasions as the two groups tried to get close to each other.

Hundreds of activists including prominent leaders from ANC alliance partners, SACP, Cosatu and Sanco, joined a picket organised by Mchunu’s close associates.

The Mchunu supporters, who sang and danced while waiting for news from the court, were calling for the six accused to be denied bail. 

A handful of Gambu supporters also held a picket outside court on Thursday calling for his release.

The bail application for the six men — Gambu, Skhanyiso Zimu, Sfiso Mbelu, Mlungisi Zimu, Ayanda Ngubane and Gift Zungu — was delayed for two weeks to October 11 and 12 because their lawyers said they were not ready.

The six are facing a string of charges, including conspiracy to commit murder and another of murder. It was their second appearance following their arrests on September 8.

Only close relatives and prominent ANC members in the region were allowed inside the court.

Court security and police kept a close watch to stop those who did not have entry tickets from rushing inside.

Meanwhile, the lawyers for Mbelu and Zungu applied for the pair to be examined by a doctor as they allege that they were tortured and assaulted in custody.

Velemseni Zulu for Mbelu said the head of New Prison had said he would only agree to have the men examined if directed to do so by the court.

Magistrate Ashin Singh granted the application. The court, however, refused an application by the defence to have access to the docket at this stage.

Benni Mohammed, representing Zimu, said the defence was unhappy about some “untruths that have been printed by some newspapers”.

He said though only six people were charged in the matter, some newspapers had published that eight people had been arrested.

Mohammed said the defence did not have full access to the docket and that they had been kept in the dark.

However, Singh said it was unheard of this early in the investigation for the defence to ask to see the docket.

“Witnesses, the investigation and the nature of the docket will be exposed ... At the appropriate stage, the docket will be made available to the defence,” Singh added.

Mchunu supporters rejoiced when they heard the bail application would not go on Thursday.

Addressing a mini rally organised by Mchunu supporters, ANC activist and ward councillor Mtuza Mkhize was angered by the absence of ANC provincial leadership.

“Where is the ANC provincial leadership? They should be here with other ANC activists to support the Mchunu family,” he said.

Although ANC provincial spokesperson Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu told The Witness on Wednesday ANC provincial working committee deployees in the Moses Mabhida region Solomon Mkhombo and Vuyiswa Caluza were instructed to represent the province at court on Thursday, the duo were a no-show.

Mkhize said Mchunu was killed for fighting corruption.

“He called for investigations in Msunduzi and uMgungundlovu District Municipality. He hated corruption. We are about to clean up this region. We are going to remove all the corrupt ones in Msunduzi,” he said.

Sanco general secretary Skhumbuzo Mpanza said it was time for corrupt individuals to leave the ANC, saying they were killing the 106-year-old organisation.

“These political killings in the Moses Mabhida region must come to an end. Killers must be jailed,” he said.

Mpanza said it was time for the leadership to take the reins of the Moses Mabhida region.

Mpanza said Mkhize and two other close allies of Mchunu, Siyabongwa Hlongwa and Vusi Ntshangase, should be elected to leadership positions when the region holds its regional conference in a date yet to be announced.

Gambu supporters left soon after the case was postponed.

Thulani Zungu, a former councillor at uMgungundlovu District Municipality, said they believed the six had been treated unfairly.

Zungu is the husband of uMgungundlovu District Municipality deputy mayor, Thandiwe “Fucwana” Zungu and father of one of the accused, Gift, and a relative of Gambu.

“They do not say who pulled the trigger. They are only saying they conspired [to commit murder],” he said.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  political killings

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