Three accused in Estcourt cannibalism case in bid for bail

2017-12-12 13:45
From left: Nino Mbatha and Lungisani Magubane sit at the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday while their two co-accused, Sthembiso Sithole and Khayalihle Lamula, hide their faces from public view. The four men have been accused of killing young mother Zanele Hlatshwayo and eating parts of her body in July this year. Their bail application will be finalised on Thursday, December 14.

From left: Nino Mbatha and Lungisani Magubane sit at the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court on Monday while their two co-accused, Sthembiso Sithole and Khayalihle Lamula, hide their faces from public view. The four men have been accused of killing young mother Zanele Hlatshwayo and eating parts of her body in July this year. Their bail application will be finalised on Thursday, December 14. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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Three of the four Estcourt men accused of killing a woman and eating some of her flesh will find out on Thursday whether they will be released on bail.

Estcourt nyanga Nino Mbatha (32), his co-accused, Lungisani Magubane (30)‚ and Khayelihle Lamula (32) appeared at the Estcourt Magistrate’s court on Monday to apply for bail, but were remanded in custody pending the court’s decision on whether bail will be granted.

Co-accused Sithembiso Sithole (31) also appeared in court but abandoned his bail application.

The four men are accused of murdering a local woman, Zanele Hlatshwayo (25), and eating her flesh.

Legal Aid defence attorney Thandeka Hadebe argued at the court on Tuesday that the three men should be granted bail as she said the state had failed to prove they had conspired to commit murder.

She argued that the state’s case against the accused was not strong enough and said the investigating officer had failed to give the court “exact evidence” against the men.

She added that two of them did not make their confessions voluntarily to police and said they might be acquitted when the case went to trial.

Hadebe also said although the court had heard Magubane and Lamula are flight risks and bail should be opposed, the investigating officer did not give evidence to prove this.

Public prosecutor Israel Zuma said in response that the evidence given to the court by the investigating officer did prove that Hlatshwayo’s murder was planned.

He said Lamula had implicated himself in planning the murder when he made a statement before Estcourt magistrate Arthi Sukraj.

“If someone has confessed to the magistrate, can they be innocent?” Zuma asked the court.

Sukraj adjourned the matter to Thursday when the court would decide whether to grant the three men bail.

Mbatha, Sithole, Magubane and Lamula allegedly conspired to kill Hlatshwayo for muthi purposes.

It is alleged that Lamula had a court case against him and he approached Magubane, who said he knew someone who could make the case “disappear”.

They then met with Mbatha.

However, when the case did not go away, Lamula then allegedly met again with his co-accused, who said because Lamula had a car, they would drive to Winterton to find someone to kill and use certain body parts as muthi.


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