Birth­day vigil in court for slain sis­ter

At­tends hear­ing in protest against ac­cused pair’s bail bid

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - TANKISO MAKHETHA

WHILE Popi Qwabe would have turned 25 yes­ter­day, her sis­ter Them­be­lihle had to cel­e­brate her birth­day at­tend­ing a court case in which two men stand ac­cused of killing her and a friend.

Alec Ma­gaula Mamoth­ame, 43, and Sandile Nkosi, 25, ap­peared in the Protea Mag­is­trate’s Court in Soweto yes­ter­day to ap­ply for bail.

They are ac­cused of kid­nap­ping, rob­bing and killing close friends Bongeka Phun­gula and Popi Qwabe on May 12.

Qwabe, who was found dead near the Naledi High School, had been shot and left for dead.

Soweto West po­lice clus­ter com­man­der Ma­jor-Gen­eral Fred Kekana said a passerby found her and took her to Bheki Mlan­geni Hos­pi­tal in Jab­u­lani, where she died on ar­rival.

Less than 24 hours later, her close friend, Phun­gula, 28, was found in Tladi, a neigh­bour­ing town­ship.

She had also been shot in the up­per-body. Po­lice sus­pect she was raped.

Both women were orig­i­nally from Mayville in Dur­ban.

Mamoth­ame and Nkosi, both taxi driv­ers, were ar­rested on May 21.

“It’s not fair that the sus­pects are seen as peo­ple who de­serve bail.

“We are here to fight and op­pose bail be­cause they do not de­serve bail,” Them­be­lihle said out­side court yes­ter­day.

She said the fam­ily were par­tic­u­larly emo­tional as yes­ter­day would have been her sis­ter’s 25th birth­day.

“It’s sad and we can’t even cel­e­brate her birth­day, she said.

Them­be­lihle said at­tend­ing court pro­ceed­ings to protest against the pair get­ting bail would go a long way to re­mem­ber­ing her sis­ter.

“This is what we are do­ing for her to keep her mem­ory alive. Next year we will be put­ting up a tomb­stone for her to cel­e­brate her birth­day,” Them­be­lihle said.

Mamoth­ame said in a state­ment that was pre­vi­ously read out to the court by his lawyer, Themba Tsha­bal­ala‚ that he was driv­ing his taxi at about 8pm in Zola when he was hi­jacked.

He said there were five pas­sen­gers in the ve­hi­cle, two women and three men, but he es­caped by jump­ing out of the mov­ing ve­hi­cle.

Mamoth­ame said he then in­formed his boss, Jo­hannes Mkhwanazi‚ who later called Tracker.

He said the ve­hi­cle was later found aban­doned in Mapetla, Soweto.

Nkosi was al­legedly found in pos­ses­sion of one of the de­ceased’s cell­phones, which he claimed he found in the taxi.

He said he took it home when he could not trace the owner‚ adding that he had no knowl­edge of the case.

Mag­is­trate Her­man Baden­horst post­poned the case to to­day, when the bail ap­pli­ca­tion was ex­pected to be fi­nalised.

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