South Africa 13.12.2016 04:46 pm

Judgment in Rhodes Park murder trial postponed to March 2017

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 24: Murder accused Thabo Nkala, Edmor Ndlovu and Mduduzi Mathibela during their appearance at the South Gauteng High Court for the murder of Zukisa Kela and his friend Sizwe Tyele on October 24, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kela and Tyele were killed at the Rhodes Park in Kensington on October 17, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 24: Murder accused Thabo Nkala, Edmor Ndlovu and Mduduzi Mathibela during their appearance at the South Gauteng High Court for the murder of Zukisa Kela and his friend Sizwe Tyele on October 24, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Kela and Tyele were killed at the Rhodes Park in Kensington on October 17, 2015. (Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Veli Nhlapo)

Judge Masopa postponed the matter, saying he needed time to consider his judgment.

The Rhodes Park murder accused will only know their fate in March next year.

The case against three men accused of raping two women and murdering their husbands in Rhodes Park in October last year was postponed on Tuesday to March 27 next year.

Judge Papi Masopa postponed the matter in the High Court sitting in Palm Ridge. He said he needed time to consider his judgment.

“Looking at the evidence, it’s lengthy, and I need time to make a decision. I can’t make a judgment on the remaining two days of the term.”

Mduduzi Lawrence Mathibela, 32, Admore Ndlovu, 23, and Thabo Nkala, 25, are accused of being part of a gang that accosted and robbed two couples on October 17, 2015 while they were taking a stroll.

According to the charge sheet, the group, armed with a gun and a knife, forced their victims to lie on the ground. They used a knife to cut off the panties of both women and then allegedly raped them.

They forced their partners to undress and pushed them into the lake where they drowned. The gang stole their clothes, jewellery and cellphones.

They have been charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, rape and murder.

During final arguments, state prosecutor Monde Mbaqa told the court that the men should face the same charges because they acted together.

Only Mathibela’s DNA was found on one of the victims which tied him to the rape. However, Mbaqa argued that this was a gang rape because according to victims testimonies, different men inserted their fingers in their private parts.

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“My lord, by the time accused number 3 [Mathibela] was raping the other victim he was continuing with what had already taken place before. The rape had taken place while the rest of the group was still there,” he said.

Based on the victims’ testimonies, all the men had participated in searching them for belongings and had ordered their husbands into the lake. Mbaqa said all of them should be charged with robbery and murder.

Ndlovu and Nkala have denied being at the crime scene. Mbaqa relied on CCTV footage to pin them to the crime.

The footage, which has been played in court, was in black and white and showed a group of men running from the crime scene.

Mbaqa said the court shouldn’t dismiss the CCTV footage as evidence because two police officers who arrested Ndlovu and Nkala told the court that both men positively identified themselves on the footage when they were arrested and also identified other perpetrators.

“The footage corroborates with what the victims had told the court and also the confession from the accused.”

Defence lawyer Thulasizwe Mpanza, acting for Nkala, said the footage was of poor quality and did not positively identify his client.

“But an informer identified the men on the video,” Masopa said.

Ndlovu’s lawyer, Robert Xaba also used the poor quality of the footage to defend his client.

“I would say since it was such low quality, it makes it impossible to identify anyone”.

Judge Masopa dismissed these claims.

Ndlovu claimed he was in Alexander with his brother Sipho on the day of the crime but the brother couldn’t be located to testify.

“Mr Xaba your client said he had an alibi but this is something he mentions only now and yet that brother couldn’t be reached. An alibi is something you produce in the beginning of court, not later when you are in the witness stand,” said Masopa.

Defence lawyer Portia Phahlane, acting for Mathibela, didn’t argue that her client wasn’t at the scene but rather focused on the rape charges and argued that he shouldn’t be convicted of gang rape but charged separately.

The case will return to court on March 27 next year for judgement.

– African News Agency

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