The eight men accused of a raft of violent crimes, including extortion and murder inside or linked to Umlazi’s notorious Glebelands Hostel, will now stand trial in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.
The accused are all in custody pending trial and were served with the indictment at Court Room X in Durban’s regional court on Friday morning before magistrate SS Hlophe. They are being charged under common purpose.
State prosecutor Advocate Dorian Paver confirmed a certificate to proceed to the high court had been granted by the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions.
The matter has been set down for September 3.
An important change from the original draft indictment is that police detective Bhekukwazi Louis Mdweshu, once based at Durban’s central police headquarters, has been identified as the de facto boss of the alleged gang.
He is accused of “managing an enterprise conducted through a pattern of racketeering activities” between the period of 19 August 2014 and 26 March 2016 at the hostel. Mdweshu allegedly ran the enterprise along with since deceased Bonga Hlophe, who was assassinated by the hostel’s alleged rival “Mthembu gang” in 2015.
The indictment said all the accused “decided and conspired to form a syndicate or association or union with the common purpose to kill or eliminate persons who resided at Glebelands Hostel who threatened their control of the aforesaid hostel and their control of payments made by other dwellers at the hostel.”
The indictment states that from “time to time”, the accused “would summon other [hostel] residents” and standing armed, demand money with the “threat of reprisal if such payments were not forthcoming”.
“During the period mentioned in the indictment, conflict arose between several blocks within the Glebelands Hostel complex, resulting in attacks being directed at residents in these blocks.
“Accused one to eight, on various occasions acted, either individually or together, to commit the acts [they stand charged of],” said the indictment.
The accused are, in order of appearance on the indictment, Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma who earlier this year was sentenced to life for murder, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Mondli Mthethwa, who is serving a five year sentence for culpable homicide, and Bongani Mbhele who has just started a 10-year jail sentence for attempted murder.
In total, they face 22 separate counts, including nine counts of murder, possession of illegal firearms and ammunition, extortion, seven counts of attempted murder, and racketeering.
The indictment recounts how various victims were “shot in the head”. In one of the more brazen murders, they are accused of killing Glebelands resident Sipho Ndovela on May 18, 2015 outside the Umlazi Magistrate’s Court precinct.
Ndovela was a witness to the killing of another hostel resident, Fikile Siyephu, in February 2015.
The state has submitted a witness list of 107 people including police officers from the ballistics unit, the Empangeni and Witbank areas, the Provincial Task Team, as well as medical personnel from various hospitals, cellular network provider MTN, forensic pathology services, private security companies and residents from various suburbs within eThekwini metro.