Mur­der ac­cused case post­poned af­ter lawyers with­draw

The Witness - - NEWS - TA­NIA BROUGHTON • newsed@wit­ness.co.za

A TRIAL in which five mem­bers of an al­leged syn­di­cate, ac­cused of tak­ing out in­sur­ance poli­cies on un­sus­pect­ing peo­ple and then mur­der­ing them to “cash in”, got off to a faulty start yes­ter­day.

Lawyers for three of the ac­cused with­drew be­cause they had not been paid and the case had to be post­poned.

But Pi­eter­mar­itzburg high court Act­ing Judge Sid­well Mn­gadi seems de­ter­mined that the mat­ter will pro­ceed later this week.

Un­usu­ally, he made an or­der that the trio ap­ply im­me­di­ately for le­gal aid. He directed that these ap­pli­ca­tions be con­sid­ered ur­gently and should there be any snags, the head of Le­gal Aid must come to court to ex­plain why be­fore Thurs­day.

He sug­gested that Ad­vo­cate Simphiwe Mlotshwa, who had been rep­re­sent­ing two of the ac­cused and has knowl­edge of the ev­i­dence, be re­briefed in the mat­ter.

“This is the sec­ond time this case has been set down for trial. It is in the in­ter­ests of jus­tice that it pro­ceed as soon as pos­si­ble,” the judge said.

The ac­cused are Joseph Zamok­wakhe Khany­ile (37) of Ema­ti­ma­tolo, taxi owner Mandla Doda Khu­malo (37) also of Ema­ti­ma­tolo, teacher Mil­dred Fisani Khoza (39) of Keat’s Drift, teacher Doris Jab­ulile Dladla/Zaca (54) of Im­bali and nurse Hlengiwe Ju­dith Zuma (54) of France, Pi­eter­mar­itzburg.

As has be­come their habit, when they ap­peared in court yes­ter­day all but Zuma hid their faces with scarves and jack­ets and, when seated, kept their heads ducked below the dock.

Khany­ile, Khu­malo and Dadla/Zaca told Judge Mn­gadi that they had no money to pay for pri­vate lawyers be­cause they were in cus­tody.

Dadla/Zaca said she had “left” her teach­ing job but had still not been paid out her pen­sion.

The in­dict­ment de­tails how they al­leg­ edly plot­ted to kill three peo­ple — Mzomukule Zuma on Au­gust 27, 2015, Sonosakhe Md­lalose on March 19, 2016, and Bongani Gcabashe on Au­gust 4, 2016.

An­other charge re­lates to the at­tempted mur­der of an al­legedly men­tally chal­lenged woman, Than­deka Gwala, on Novem­ber 20, 2015.

The mo­dus operandi, it is al­leged, is that they ob­tained their vic­tim’s iden­tity doc­u­ments and took out life in­sur­ance poli­cies in their names.

They then drugged them, us­ing al­co­hol laced with man­drax or sleep­ing tablets, and when they were in­ca­pac­i­tated, ran over them in “staged” ac­ci­dents.

Zuma and Md­lalose died im­me­di­ately from “blunt force in­juries”.

Gwala sur­vived, but was se­ri­ously in­jured.

Their plan for Gcabashe, it is al­leged, was foiled when “their at­tempts to in­tox­i­cate him” failed.

In­stead, they took him to a tuck shop, asked him to buy them airtime and, as he walked away, he was shot.

The in­dict­ment states that the po­ten­tial prej­u­dice to in­sur­ers and fi­nan­cial ser­vice providers (Avbob, Clien­tele, Dis­cov­ery, Hol­lard, Old Mu­tual, Re­gent Life, San­lam and Stan­dard Bank) was R2 855 200, but the ac­tual loss they suf­fered to­talled R1 369 880.

The mat­ter has been ad­journed un­til to­mor­row and, if the le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion is­sue has been re­solved, the trial will start on Thurs­day and con­tinue un­til De­cem­ber 1.

PHOTO: IAN CARBUTT

Mur­der ac­cused Doris Dladla/Zaca (front) and Hlengiwe Zuma leave the court­room af­ter their case was post­poned un­til later this week.

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