FULL STORY: #CannibalismCase: Bail refused, case resumes in January

Nino Mbatha, Sithembiso Sithole, Lungisani Magubane and Khayelihle Lamula appear in court this morning.

On December 14, the highly-anticipated bail application ruling was heard in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court. Ms Sookraj started the bail ruling by recapping the proceedings of the bail application since it began on October 27.

She explained that state prosecutor Mr Zuma argued that this was a schedule six bail application, which meant that the murder was planned and premeditated. She said that after evidence delivered by the Investigating Officer; Kagatso Matseana from the KwaZulu-Natal Harmful Related Crime and Corruption Unit, the court accepted that it was a schedule six bail application.

“It is undisputed that the motive was muthi-related. The Investigating Officer gave evidence that a person was kidnapped and killed to make muthi,” said Ms Sookraj.

READ THIS: UPDATE: Police confirm identity of human remains found in flesh-eating case

She emphasised that in the case of a schedule six application, the onus was on the accused to show that exceptional circumstances exist, in the interest of justice, to be released.

In the cases of the bail applicants, Lungisani Magubane and Khayelihle Lamula, both men said they took care of their families and minor children.

During her ruling, Magistrate Sookraj deliberated on the evidence the accused and witnesses gave. She spoke of the alleged confessions that the accused made to police, the findings made by police officers, which included a mutilated body and burnt body parts that were placed in containers.

SEE THIS: Demonstration outside court this morning

Speaking about the evidence delivered by witness Mthembeni Majola, a councillor in the Rensburgdrift area, Ms Sookraj recalled how the community was described as ‘shocked and outraged’ after the arrests.

READ THIS: Police disperse angry crowd with tear gas and rubber bullets

“Mr Majola testified that the community wanted the accused’s homes to be removed but he was able to restrain them because the parents are not involved,” said Ms Sookraj.

The Magistrate also pointed out that the Investigating Officer Mr Matseana testified that if the men were released on bail their lives may be in danger. She added that while she was mindful that the men were willing to relocate if they received bail, they would have to attend court proceedings in Estcourt and face the community, which could pose a threat to their safety.

ALSO READ: BREAKING NEWS: Three suspects in the cannibalism case are released

“At this stage both applicants know the seriousness of the charges and the potential sentence is convicted as well as the lengthy term of imprisonment they could face. This could serve as a deterrent to stand trial. There is a possibility if they are released, they may evade police. The state has established more than one ground for refusal of bail and looking at the evidence in totality for the two applicants, no exceptional circumstances have been shown for their release. For these reasons, bail is refused,” pronounced Ms Sookraj.

ALSO READ: FULL STORY: #CannibalismCase: Court proceedings from yesterday

The two accused looked emotionless as the ruling was delivered. All four men, Nino Mbatha, Sithembiso Sithole, Lungisani Magubane and Khayelihle Lamula, have been remanded in custody. The matter has been postponed to January 25 for forensic evidence.

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Ronelle Mungaroo

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