Glebelands murders: Accused “celebrated” the killings, says witness

Hostel residents who refused to pay money were killed

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Photo of men in court
The killers in the Glebelands hostels “celebrated” after the murders, the Pietrmaritzburg High Court has heard. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane

The man testifying as a state witness in the “Glebelands Eight” case has told the Pietermaritzburg high court that the murder of William Mthembu and Thokozani Machi was celebrated in one of the blocks at the Glebelands hostel.

Mthembu and Machi were both murdered at Montclair on 12 September 2015.

Testifying in camera (and therefore we cannot name him), the witness told the court last week that accused Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi and Bongani Mbhele had killed both Mthembu and Machi on the same day.

Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, the main accused, had conspired in the murder, said the witness. He said on the day of the murder Mdweshu was following Mthembu and Machi monitoring their movements.

The eight men are facing charges related to the murders at the Glebelands hostel between March 2014 and August 2016. Other accused are Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase and Mondli Mthethwa.

The witness said Mdweshu believed Mthembu was standing in his way and he had to be killed.

The witness told the court that an amount of cash had been allocated for the first person to find and kill Mthembu.

According to the witness Mthembu was first on the list to be killed.

On Tuesday the witness said he had returned from work to find Mbuthuma, Mcombothi and Mbhele celebrating the murder of Mthembu and Machi.

“I remember the three, that I have mentioned. There were many other people who were there that I cannot remember. I went to the block where the celebration was happening,” said the witness.

Martin Krog for the defence asked the witness if had seen the three men killing Mthembu and Machi. The witness said he had not seen them but he knew the accused had killed the men. “I was holding a position at the block. They (accused) would inform me of what was going on.” He said even though things were not smooth between him and Mdweshu, he was kept informed.

Krog said the witness’s testimony about the murders was based on what other people had told him.

The witness told the court that Mdweshu ordered him and two others to forcefully collect money from the residents. He said some of the residents who refused to pay money were killed. “Mdweshu’s word was final. I was afraid of him. He kills. Accused number one was the one in charge and I could not disagree with anything that he says. We were following his orders,” said the witness.

He said a record was kept in a book of the names of those who had paid and who had not paid and Mdweshu could see if a certain person had not paid. “Those people were threatened. He sent his people from the hostel to threaten those who have not paid,” said the witness.

Krog put it to the witness that he collected the money for his own benefit and was not sent by Mdweshu. The witnesses said he disagreed. He stood by his testimony that Mdweshu had sent him. “I had witnessed the happenings at Glebelands hostel. People were dying, I had to follow his orders,” said the witness.

The case continues on Wednesday.

TOPICS:  Glebelands trial

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