A state witness in the “Glebelands Eight” hostel crimes case said he took part in the attempted murder of Thokozani Machi, a resident at the hostel.
The man is testifying in camera and may not be named.
Eight men are accused of 22 charges in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, including murder and attempted murder.
The first accused is former police officer Bhekukwazi Mdweshu. His seven co-accused are Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele.
“I was there, I saw Bonga Hlophe shooting at Machi,” said the witness. (It is not clear when this incident took place. The witness didn’t say.)
Machi later died in a subsequent attack on 15 September 2015 in Montclair. Bonga Hlophe is also dead. He was a cousin of accused Eugene Hlophe.
The witness has been in the dock for several days.
On Thursday, his last day under cross-examination, he was questioned by Xolani Sindane who is representing five of the accused (Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele).
The witness told the court that Mdweshu had planned for Machi to be shot in the evening. He said the late hitman Hlophe was with him and Mdweshu. “We couldn’t disagree with him [Mdweshu],” the witness said.
Testimony by witnesses over the past couple of weeks has fingered Mdweshu as being the mastermind of multiple murders and attempted murders at the hostel.
“Machi was working at Ekwandeni tavern. He was going to knock off from work in the evening. Hlophe was the one who fired the gun. I was there,” said the witness. But they failed to kill Machi that day.
The witness said that at the time he was in possession of his father’s licensed gun. “Mdweshu was not happy that we could not kill Machi that evening. He called me and interrogated me in his room. I told him I could not use my father’s gun to kill a person. It was a big issue,” said the witness.
Mbuthuma, Mcombothi and Mbhele are charged for the murder of Machi that eventually took place. He was killed along with William Mthembu. Machi was shot in the head and he died on the scene.
Sindane asked the witness about the day Fikile Siyephu was killed.
The witness had told the court that he saw Mcombothi and Sthembiso Mbanjwa shooting Siyephu after an argument occurred at the tavern at Glebeland.
Sindane asked the witness where he was during the shooting.
“I was outside block 53,” he responded. He said both Mcombothi and Mbanjwa murdered Siyephu between blocks 49 and 53.
“After they shot him Mcombothi went to block 52 because he was fleeing from the police,” the witness said.
Sindane asked the witness why he didn’t confront Mcombothi about killing Siyephu since the witness was in a relationship with Siyephu’s sister.
“I would have been killed if I did that,” said the witness.
The witness told the court that there was a committee that was formed in Glebelands to create peace after seeing so much blood being shed.
He said he together with Hlophe signed a peace agreement which made Mdweshu angry.
“The Fire Aside Peace Committee was formed. Mdweshu blamed us for signing the peace agreement. We didn’t know that some people were gaining from the death of other people. It was clear that the peace was disturbing them from making money,” said the witness.
Sindane said Mcombothi would give testimony contesting the claims by the witness that he was involved in the killings.
Another state witness will testify in camera in court on Monday.