“In Glebelands you were supposed to be careful, be alert and know who you were talking to before you say anything” witness tells court

The trial is expected to continue on 20 April

Photo of the court convoy standing in one of the hostel blocks

The trial against the Glebelands Eight continued with testimony from the state’s fourth witness in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday. Last week, the court conducted an in loco inspection at the hostel in Umlazi. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

By Nompendulo Ngubane

24 March 2020

“In Glebelands you were supposed to be careful, be alert and know who you were talking to before you say anything,” a state witness told the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday.

The fourth state witness to testify in the “Glebelands Eight” trial told the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday that he became a police informer after seeing those close to him being brutally murdered in the Glebelands hostel.

He said the killers were known, but people were too scared to inform the police.

The witness, a deputy secretary in block 52 who testified in camera, said he had attended meetings where plans were hatched to kill William Mthembu and Thokozani Machi in the hostel, but he had never killed anyone.

The eight accused – Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Mbhele – face 22 charges, including nine for murder, seven for attempted murder, and possession of illegal firearms and racketeering.

During the previous hearing, the witness revealed that a reward of R160,000 had been put up for a hitman to murder Mthembu and Machi, known as the “big fishes” at the hostel. Both Mthembu and Machi were shot and killed on 12 September 2015 at Montclair.

When cross examined by Advocate Martin Krog, representing Mdweshu and Ntshangase, the witness said he began dealing with the police after the murders of Mthembu and Machi in 2015.

He said that three days before the murder of Mthembu and Machi he received a phone call. “The person said he was working at Umlazi GG police station. He said he wanted a meeting with me. I told him I cannot talk while in Glebelands but I can only meet him at work.”

The witness said he could not recall the policeman’s name.

Krog asked if the witness had been involved in any of the crimes before he was contacted by the police? He said, “Issues will be discussed in my presence but I never killed anyone. I’m not saying I did not commit any crime. I was present at meetings where they talked about killing these people [Mthembu and Machi].”

The trial was adjourned at lunchtime after court interpreter, GG Khoza, raised concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.

“All the courts have closed down and people have been sent home. Our health and safety is a right not a privilege. We don’t know how safe we are. We have not been told what is happening in the building as we are continuing to work. We are placing our lives at risk and also placing our loved ones at risk by continuing working under these conditions,” said Khoza.

The lawyers representing the accused all indicated that they were willing to continue the hearing but Judge Nkosinathi Chili remanded the matter until Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, the case was remanded until 20 April. All of the accused will be remanded at Westville Prison until the next hearing date.