The Pietermaritzburg High Court has adjourned the Glebelands Eight case against eight men who are accused of committing murders at Glebelands hostel in Umlazi, Durban, until March 2020.
The case will be held in two sessions, on March 2 and 26, 2020, resuming in April after the court recess, GroundUp reports.
All eight accused would remain in Westville prison close to their relatives, according to state advocate Dorian Paver.
The eight men – Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele – face 22 charges including nine of murder and seven of attempted murder.
A state witness, who testified in camera and finished his testimony on Thursday, told the court how he was forced to flee Glebelands after receiving several threats for being a hindrance to hitmen living in the hostel.
The witness, who was a liquor hawker, spoke of the murder of Sphamandla Cele on March 24, 2016. No one has been arrested for his murder.
The witness told the court he had learned Cele was killed when he saw him lying on the road next to Glebelands.
After Cele was shot, he said, he received threats from the police and Glebelands residents. The man added the residents were influenced by some of the accused to protest against him. The police had told him to leave Glebelands.
“The police asked me why I was still alive because other people are dying. They told me I must leave because I am a disturbance to the hitmen at Glebelands hostel. At the same time, some of the accused gathered the community to protest against me.”
He said the residents had been told by “some of the accused” he had killed Cele.
“I immediately left Glebelands leaving behind my items. The only thing I took from my room was my clothes. A day after I left, the residents broke into my room. They took my documents. My furniture was stolen including the liquor that I was selling. They took my fridge, snooker pool table and all they wanted,” the witness told the court.
Xolani Sindane – representing Mbuthuma, Mcombothi, Ntshangase, Mthembu and Mbhele – asked the witness if he was not linked to Cele’s death. The witness said he was not.
Sindane said Ntshangase (his client) had seen the witness killing Cele. According to him, his client was in Block 17 when he saw the witness and another man attacking Cele.
“He is lying,” said the witness.
Sindane asked if he had attended Cele’s funeral. The witness said he had not.
“Some of the accused convinced Cele’s family that I had killed him. At the time, the family was against me. As time went on, I explained to the family what happened. We are on good speaking terms now,” said the witness.
Hlophe’s lawyer, Dianne Franklin, also cross-examined the witness about Cele’s murder. Franklin asked if he had left Glebelands not because people had said he was disturbing hitmen, but because he had killed Cele. “No,” said the witness.
“Why didn’t you report Cele’s death to the police? Was it because you were scared that you were linked?” said Franklin.
“I did not report it at the time because I left Glebelands,” the witness said. “My relatives had been killed, including Cele. I was confused as to how I will explain at home how my brothers had been killed.”