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Outcry as suspects accused of killing three women in Inanda drive-by shooting before the local government elections get bail

The Inanda Ward 54 community members hold placards outside the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court, urging the court not to grant bail to the accused. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African news Agency (ANA)

The Inanda Ward 54 community members hold placards outside the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court, urging the court not to grant bail to the accused. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African news Agency (ANA)

Published Jan 7, 2022

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DURBAN - EMOTIONS ran high at the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Thursday as the families of the three women killed in a drive-by shooting in Inanda said they were aggrieved and feared for their lives, as the court granted bail to the accused in the murder case.

Sibongile Buthelezi the secretary-general of the ANCWL in ward 54, Samukelisiwe Maphumulo and Thembinkosi Mkhwanazi were granted R3 000 bail each. Their co-accused, Siyabonga Lundy, was earlier released on R10 000 bail, due to illness.

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The four are accused of shooting and killing Beatrice Nzama, 60, Ncami Shange, 34 and Philisiwe Jili, 37, in September last year, in a drive-by shooting believed to be politically motivated.

The shooting happened before the scheduled start of a Ward 54 meeting on September 11. The incident sparked a public outcry and prompted a visit from Police Minister Bheki Cele.

Speaking outside the court, Selby Dlamini, whose wife Beatrice Nzama was killed, said by granting bail the court showed no care for the grieving families.

“We are beyond angry because of the court’s decision. It basically means we are unsafe in our community.”

Dlamini said the court was more concerned about how the law was applied, instead of the safety of the families and the community at large.

“As a family, we want justice for my wife in the hope that she will rest in peace, but she will not if the people who took her life are living their lives as if nothing happened,” said Dlamini.

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During the bail application, defence attorney Melusi Xulu, argued that the State had wrongly interpreted the law in its submitted assertions, that in the interest of justice, the accused three could not be released on bail.

Xulu said the State wanted to detain his clients in custody as a form of anticipatory punishment. Until they were proven guilty, the law presumed that they were innocent, he said.

“The State assumes that the factors it presented were conclusive of the interests of justice, which are that the accused be detained in custody until they are dealt with in accordance with the law. That was a wrong interpretation of the law, because the State failed to prove that fact in accordance with section 60(a)-(f), which deals with opposing bail applications,” said Xulu.

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Xulu said his clients were breadwinners, and could not be a flight risk, because of their duties as parents.

“My clients have families to feed and children to take care of … What should be clear before the magistrate for the bail application is that the applicants will stand their trial. As it is clear that the investigation has been finalised with virtually all witnesses being State witnesses, the interests of justice clearly favour the release of the applicants on bail as they pose no danger to the witnesses and the investigation,” said Xulu.

The prosecution was represented through a state attorney who made submissions on paper.

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After court proceedings, Xulu was met with a hostile crowd just outside the courtroom questioning his integrity as a lawyer. Some in the crowd hurled insults at him, but the police quickly took him to a safe passage outside the court.

Lungisani Chiliza, who was an ANC candidate in Ward 54 for the local government election, urged the leadership of the ANC in the eThekwini region and the women’s league to show their support to the community and to reaffirm their disregard for lawbreakers.

“I urge the ANC leaders in all our structures from the eThekwini region, the women’s league and the province to help in making sure that justice prevails in this case. More especially, the women’s league, because the people who died were women, and one of the accused has a big role or position in the ANCWL. We urge them to help the families who are now without a source of income. There are children who are orphans, and need the help of the party,” said Chiliza.

Magistrate Scelo Zuma adjourned the case to February 27.

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