Accused in ANC double murder granted bail

While supporters of the families of the deceased wept, Bonginkosi Shabalala’s supporters celebrated

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Photo of people marching in a celebratory style
Supporters of Bonginkosi Shabalala celebrate outside the Pietermaritzburg Magistrates’ Court yesterday after he was granted bail.

Bonginkosi Shabalala (40), the former ANC branch treasurer for ward 15 in Pietermaritzburg, was granted bail yesterday. He is accused of the murders of two women Phetheni Ngubane, 60 and Badedile Ntsapha, 54. They were shot dead on the way back an ANC meeting in Mehlokazulu High School hall in Fedsem last month.

The court decision was a disappointment for many members of the Fedsem community. The mood turned sombre in court for those who came to support the families of the deceased. Some broke into tears. They stood outside court looking sorrowful, while Shabalala’s supports sang celebratory songs.

Shabalala’s supporters were shouting Jabulani Kunene’s name, saying he is a liar. Kunene is the ANC candidate standing for ward 15.

South Africa is failing us in so many ways, said Ntombenhle Khathi, a support of the families of the murdered women.

“We were not expecting this to happen. How can they grant bail to a person who has murdered innocent women? We came here hoping that we will influence the court decision in any way. Our presence was to show that this is a serious matter. We are sad and we are angry the way our justice system has handled this matter. This man is an animal,” said Khathi.

In court the magistrate said that the evidence that the state has presented are allegations. The magistrate said at this stage there is not enough evidence that points to Shabalala except for the unsubstantiated allegations.

But Shabalala was warned not to return to Emaqeleni where he was living. He was told to stay at an alternative address in Bulwer. He was also warned not to attend any political meetings of the ANC or any political party. He may also not interfere with witnesses in the case.

They had no case from the beginning, said one of Shabalala’s supporters. “We will support him and we will not stop. We know that the ward is divided. Although we are divided, we are still members of the ANC,” he said.

Other community members raised their concerns about their safety. “They don’t care about our safety. Who knows what’s going to happen to us,” said one woman.

Shabalala’s next appearance is on 23 August.

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