Political killing suspects in court

PHOTOS: siphelele nketoCommunity members chant outside Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court, calling for an end to political killings.
PHOTOS: siphelele nketoCommunity members chant outside Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court, calling for an end to political killings.

“I NEVER planned to kill Tshibase and I feel sad to be implicated in his murder,” said a suspect during cross-examination by the state at a packed Umzimkhulu Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, November 20.

The suspect and his four co-accused appeared in court for the murder of former Umzimkhulu Councillor Mduduzi Tshibase, who was shot dead while entering his home in Gugwini village outside Umzimkhulu in May last year.

The suspects were arrested separately by SAPS a few weeks ago.

The bail hearing for the first suspect was heard last week. The second suspect, who formally applied for bail on Tuesday, told the court: “From May 3 to August 30 I was in custody and there is evidence for that. I never planned to kill Tshibase.”

The suspect confirmed that he will be appearing in court on December 10 in relation to another murder case that is also linked to the killing of a councillor. He also confirmed that he had another case opened against him for possession of an unlicenced firearm. The suspect told the court that he will reside in Kokstad and continue working as a taxi driver if bail is granted.

Another suspect was called to the dock for his bail hearing and was cross-examined by his legal representative, Lungelo Gcaleka, who asked him to give details about his arrest. The suspect said he was arrested by police at his home.

“I tried to run away, but I didn’t succeed because of a problem with my feet. Before my arrest, there were unknown people who claimed to be police demanding a firearm. As a result my life was at risk,” the suspect said.

He asked the court to grant him bail to look after his sick mother and siblings. He also wanted to be released to continue working as a taxi owner and to install water pipes in his area.

He told the court: “In 1998/1999 I paid a fine for being found guilty of assault. In 2007 I was sentenced to 12 years’ imprisonment for a case of murder.” He said he had nothing to do with politics.

The case was postponed to Thursday, November 22.

All suspects are legally represented and the presiding officer, Khulile Mdladlamba, is expected to deliver judgment after hearing the applications of all the suspects.

Outside court, a group of community members chanted songs and called for the end of political killings in Umzimkhulu. Armed police were present both inside and outside the court.

An inter-ministerial committee tasked to investigate all political related killings in KwaZulu Natal was appointed by SAPS Minister Bheki Cele.

Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo, the National SAPS spokesperson, said the Inter-ministerial committee will provide regular updates in early December.

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