Daily News

Zuma’s nephew escapes taxi violence charges


CHARGES against 11 men, including President Jacob Zuma’s nephew and taxi boss Mfundo Gcaba, accused of a taxi-violence-related shooting, were yesterday withdrawn in the Durban High Court.

The matter had been set down for trial this week and was expected to begin yesterday, but senior State advocate Sasha Jacobs told the court the prosecutio­n had decided to withdraw the charges.

The 11 accused were arrested at Brook Street Taxi Rank on September 16, 2015, after the shooting that left three people dead, including a commuter.

Inconsiste­ncy in the ballistic report conducted on the firearms allegedly used in the shooting and the failure to trace key witnesses were the reasons for the State to withdraw the charges of murder, attempted murder and public violence against the men – William Kunene, Hezekiah Masiteng, Xolani Mhlongo, Vusi Ngubane, Sibongisen­i Khanyile, Lucas Mhlenti, Brett Rayner, Thulani Dyanti, Mandla Nkosi, Mhlabunzim­a Gasa and Mfundo Gcaba.

During their bail applicatio­n in the Durban Magistrate’s Court, it was alleged that Gcaba was the “main driving force” behind the illegal invasion of taxi routes that allegedly led to the shooting.

State advocate Khumbu Shazi had to be escorted to court by members of the Tactical Response Team.

According to investigat­ing officer Major Mandla Dlamini’s affidavit, read during the bail applicatio­n, there were allegation­s of a bitter and long-standing feud between the Zamokuhle Long Distance and Sonke Long Distance taxi associatio­ns and. He alleged this was the motive behind the shooting.

The accused had, through their defence lawyer, advocate Jimmy Howse, denied being members of either of the associatio­ns and claimed they had acted in self-defence.

Outside court yesterday, family and friends who attended to support the men joined in the celebratio­ns. They hugged each other and laughed as they left the court building.

The family members of the deceased were not in court.

Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, National Prosecutin­g Authority regional spokespers­on, confirmed the State withdrew the case after it failed to trace witnesses to the shooting and also because of the inconsiste­nt ballistic evidence.

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