‘Witnesses not safe’ - Maqatha murder case

2018-11-16 15:27

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The case against the six men on trial for the murder of ANC activist Musawenkosi “Maqatha” Mchunu is largely based on statements by witnesses.

This was said on Thursday by the investigating officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Nomfana Masilela, who was opposing bail for the six in the Pietermaritzburg regional court.

According to Masilela, whose affidavit was presented in court by state prosecutor Rene Padayachee, members of the task team were in possession of statements from witnesses about meetings held by the accused shortly before Mchunu was murdered outside his KwaPata home in May.

The accused, Masilela told the court, had initially planned to get “muti” smeared on the tyres of Mchunu’s car intending that the former Msunduzi councillor should crash and be killed.

However, the group later allegedly changed their plan, opting to have Mchunu shot dead instead.

A few days after the alleged meeting, Mchunu was shot dead by unknown people while in his driveway.

In his affidavit, Masilela revealed that Mchunu, who died in hospital, sustained 15 gunshot wounds. “He was shot in front of his wife and child,” Masilela said.

While the task team recovered some illegal firearms from the accused, who include ANC Msunduzi Municipality councillor Nkosinathi Gambu, investigators do not have any evidence linking the weapons to Mchunu’s murder.

“It is not known whether they are linked to any crimes,” Masilela said.

The six men have been in custody since their arrest in September.

Masilela urged the court not to release them on bail, saying political killings are a serious matter and that there was a chance that the six, who also include Gift Zungu — the son of uMgungundlovu deputy mayor Fucwana Zungu, could intimidate witnesses if set free.

However, the defence has described the state’s case as “weak” and asked the court to release the six.

“The state’s case is nothing more than sweeping and unsubstantiated allegations,” Advocate Jerome Brauns, SC, said.

Mchunu was part of an ANC faction aligned to President Cyril Ramaphosa while on the other hand, Gumbi and the five accused belonged to a faction aligned to former president Jacob Zuma.

Brauns told the court that it was likely that those who have given members of the task team statements were part of a rival faction wanting to ensure that their political rivals were crushed.

“It is highly likely that there is a political motive,” he said.

In their affidavit, the six men — who claim to have been assaulted during their incarceration — have also accused members of the task team of being a political tool designed to silence political opponents within the ANC.

Brauns said while they accepted that the political scourge in the province had negative effects on society and the victims’ families, it would be wrong to use that as an excuse to trample on the rights of the accused. “You can’t just keep them in prison, you must prove that they have a case to answer,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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