Yende's murder accused 'does not have exceptional circumstances' for bail

Thembisile Yende. (Supplied)
Thembisile Yende. (Supplied)

Johannesburg - Thembisile Yende's murder accused David Ngwenya failed to show exceptional circumstances why he should be released on bail.

Handing down judgment in the bail application at the Springs Magistrate's Court in the east of Johannesburg, Magistrate Cornell Pretorius said that she had weighed up the accused's rights, as well as the interests of justice in arriving at a decision.

She ruled that Ngwenya should have done more than just deny the charges of premeditated murder against him.

"On the bulk of the evidence placed before the court, I find that the nature and gravity of the charge that the suspect is charged with very serious," said Pretorius, adding that Ngwenya faces the possibility of life imprisonment should he be convicted.

"The court finds that the suspect has not discharged the onus that rested on him to show that exceptional circumstances exist in the interests of justice that may satisfy the court and allow it to permit his release," said Pretorius to a roomful of heavy sighs of relief from those in the gallery.

The court orderly had to tell those in attendance to keep the noise level down as Pretorius delivered her judgment.

Pretorius said that the court was of the view that there is a likelihood that the suspect will flee if released on bail.

43-year-old Ngwenya - a technician at Eskom - allegedly murdered his lover, Yende, after he suspected that she would "spill the beans" on his involvement in a copper cable theft syndicate, the court heard.

Yende - also an Eskom employee - allegedly became aware of this, and had allegedly told her mother they had heated arguments about irregularities at work.

Whistleblowing 

According to the investigating officer, Colonel Christo Lotz, Yende had also allegedly told her mother about her fears in emails.

The court heard that there was a clear deviation from Yende's routine on the night of her disappearance. Her family members went to Eskom's substation in Springs to find her after her disappearance.

The white Hilux bakkie that she used was not there. However, the next day the bakkie was there, and a search for her ensued.

The court also heard that on May 19, K9 dogs were used to find Yende, and a further attempt was made on May 29.

The body was discovered in the storeroom at the Pietersboth substation, a site which Ngwenya allegedly frequented on occasion as a technician.

Court also heard that the scene looked like it was "staged" to look like Yende committed suicide.

Ngwenya is accused of injecting Yende with a substance, before striking her head with a crowbar and subsequently suffocating and strangling her after a struggle.

The court heard that Ngwenya did not act alone, but rather with two other suspects who are still at large. An investigating officer testified on Tuesday that a witness - a sangoma - had come to the police station after the suspect and two others came to him and allegedly told him details about the commission of the crime, asking for a cleansing ceremony on two occasions.

Also read: Man 'linked' to Eskom employee's death dies after questioning - police

According to the investigating officer, the witness came to the police before the suspect was in custody, and he was subsequently threatened by armed men at his house before fleeing to his mother's home in Soweto.

He was again threatened by armed men in Soweto, and escaped by hiding in the ceiling. He has since requested to be placed in a witness protection programme.

An unknown entity also allegedly threatened Ngwenya, saying "we know who your three kids are and where they go to school", something which the family told journalists they had no involvement in.

The accused was arrested on June 15, just under a month after Yende went missing on May 17. He is due to appear again in court on July 17.

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