17 February 2023
The Pietermaritzburg High Court has handed down the long-awaited sentencing of a group of hitmen known as “Glebelands Eight”. The men were convicted of several murders and other crimes between 2014 and 2016 at the notorious Glebelands hostels in uMlazi, Durban.
The accused are Bhekukwazi Mdweshu (a former detective of Durban Central police station), Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Hlophe, Mbuyiselwa Mkhize, Ncomekile Ntshangase, Mondli Mthethwa and Bongani Mbhele. They were convicted of multiple charges including murder, attempted murder and unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition in October last year.
The men were arrested in 2017 and spent five years in prison while awaiting trial.
The trial, which started in 2019, heard extensive evidence detailing how the group - led by former police officer Mdweshu – would intimidate residents in the hostels for “collections” and murder anyone that got in their way in bids to control the hostels.
In a heavily-policed courtroom on Thursday, Judge Nkosinathi Emmanuel Chili sentenced Mdweshu, convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and four counts of attempted murder, to ten-year imprisonment.
Mbuthuma, convicted of three counts of murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment. Mcobothi, convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, four counts of attempted murder and three counts of murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Hlophe and Ntshangase, convicted of four counts of attempted murder each, were sentenced to five years in jail. Mkhize, convicted of two counts of murder, was given a life sentence.
Mthethwa, convicted of two counts of attempted murder, two counts of murder, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition, also got a life sentence. Mbhele, convicted of two counts of murder, was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Judge Chili said that the group operated as a “law unto themselves”, murdering people publicly, in broad daylight, while making no attempt to hide their identities.
Where there was more than one count, the sentences will run concurrently. “Regarding the attempted murder charges, the court found that the men were in custody (awaiting trial) for five years. Therefore, the court imposed a sentence of 10 years imprisonment, where five years were suspended for a period of five years.”
Outside court NPA regional spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said, “We hope that this heavy sentencing will deter like-minded individuals and show the Glebelands hostel community the kind of stance that the government is taking in response to this level of violence.”