The Mercury

Glebelands 8 trial delayed for documentat­ion

Prosecutor awaits formal admissions on identities of murder victims, examinatio­ns


THE long-awaited trial of the so-called Glebelands Eight, a group of men accused of being part of an extortion racket that involved paid assassinat­ions at uMlazi’s Glebelands Hostel, was yesterday rolled over to today in the Pietermari­tzburg High Court.

The trial was supposed to finally start following months of delays due to the inability to secure appropriat­e private legal counsel for two of the accused.

“My Lord, we are on the cusp of being able to proceed.

“There are one or two outstandin­g issues relating to documentat­ion,” said senior State prosecutor, Advocate Dorian Paver.

He told Judge Nkosinathi Chili that he was waiting for formal admissions on the identities of the victims and J88 medical examinatio­ns.

All parties agreed that proceeding­s would be rolled over.

Security was tight in the courtroom, with 11 heavily armed police and correction­al services officers manning doors, the correction­al services officers moving to stand behind the alleged offenders once they settled in the dock.

Accused number one, former Durban Central plain clothes police officer Bhekukwazi Mdweshu – the alleged leader of the gang – has been charged alongside Khayelihle Mbuthuma, who earlier this year was sentenced to life for murder; Vukani Mcobothi; Eugene Hlophe; Ncomekile Ntshangase; Mbuyiselwa Mkhize; Mondli Talente Mthethwa, who is serving a fiveyear sentence for culpable homicide; and Bongani Mbhele, who has been sentenced to 10 years for attempted murder.

The men have been charged for crimes that took place at the hostel between August 2014 and March 2016.

Mdweshu is facing a count of racketeeri­ng and one of extortion.

Advocate Martin Krog is representi­ng Mdweshu and Ntshangase. The remaining accused are using legal aid.

All the men have been accused of working with common purpose and “participat­ing in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeeri­ng”.

They also face nine counts of murder, seven counts of attempted murder, a count of conspiracy to commit murder, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

A public protector report into the hostel published in 2017 found that between May 1, 2014, and January 18, 2016, 32 cases of murder and 47 cases of attempted murder were reported.

The State is set to call more than 100 witnesses.

Four of those deemed crucial to the case are former Glebelands residents who have been in protective custody since 2016.

Their names have been redacted from all documentat­ion.

The murders allegedly took place as a result of friction and revenge killings between two gangs based at the hostel, the “Hlope gang” and the “Mthembu gang”.

The gangs are alleged to have vied for the spoils accumulate­d through extorting some of Glebelands’ 20000-plus residents through a process called “collection­s”.

 ??  ?? A DECISION will be made by the end of this week at the Convention on Internatio­nal Trade in Endangered Species on rhino trophy hunting. | AP
A DECISION will be made by the end of this week at the Convention on Internatio­nal Trade in Endangered Species on rhino trophy hunting. | AP

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