19 May 2020
The men known as the “Glebelands Eight” will remain behind bars at Westville Prison for at least another five months. The trial, which had been running in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, was postponed until October.
A recent directive issued by Judge President Achmat Jappie remanded all criminal trials in both the High and Magistrates courts for the duration of the current lockdown. It further states that all the matters on the court’s roll between 4 May and 26 June, would be adjourned.
The eight accused — Bhekukwazi Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcombothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele — face 22 charges, including nine for murder and seven for attempted murder.
The state is making the case that Mdweshu led a syndicate and conspired to commit an array of crimes in the community. According to the charge sheet, Mdweshu and his co-accused collected money from at least 20,000 hostel residents and allegedly bought weapons and hitmen who were believed to be involved in other murders at the hostels.
During a previous hearing, the witness revealed that a reward of R160,000 had been put up for a hitman to murder William Mthembu and Thokozani Machi, known as the “big fishes” at Glebelands hostel. Both Mthembu and Machi were shot and killed on 12 September 2015 at Montclair.
Mthembu was believed to be controlling the chairpeople of various hostel blocks and Machi was said to be his hitman, according to a state witness, who has been testifying in camera.
Before the national lockdown, the matter was postponed to 20 April. This date was then changed to 4 May, and it has now been set down to be heard on 5 October.