It’s been a long day in a packed room at court B at the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court and it’s not over yet.
Inkatha Freedom Party Councillor Mthembeni Majola, Endumeni (Dundee) Local Municipality Mayor Richard Mbatha and alleged hit man Xolani Makhathini are heading back to the jail cells tonight as their bail application has been rolled over to tomorrow (June 1) at 11am at the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court.
The three men have each been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit murder after they were arrested last week when an alleged plot to assassinate Endumeni council Speaker Bongiwe Mbatha and security tender recipient Mofat Mosia.
Leading the evidence this morning was State Prosecutor Ms Zungu who read the Investigating Officer’s affidavit and declared that the state would be opposing bail. Both the state and defence teams agreed that the charges are schedule 1.
The Investigation Officer (IO) is warrant Officer Milton Mandla Ndlovu who has been in the police service for 31 years. He is currently employed at the Organised Crime Unit in Pietermaritzburg where he has 28 years’ experience as a detective.
Here is a summary of the affidavit:
1. On April 16, 2018 the IO received information that there was a conspiracy to kill a person.
2. A planning meeting to discuss the killing was scheduled for April 18.
3. The IO requested an undercover agent; this was approved by the District Public Prosecutor.
4. The undercover agent would infiltrate the planning meeting. Once the meeting was confirmed, audio devices were prepared.
5. On April 18, the undercover agent together with Xolani Makhathini and a third gentleman who has not been named left Pietermaritzburg in a white VW Polo. They arrived in Esigodlweni (Rensburgdrift) at Mthembeni Majola’s home. They parked the VW in the garage and left in a white Toyota Fortuner.
6. All four men and Mr Majola’s bodyguard travelled to Dundee where Mr Majola made a call and thereafter left to park near a school in Dundee.
7. A white Opel Astra (NDE 1888) approached and signalled to follow him. They arrived in Forestdale in Dundee where the bodyguard exited the Fortuner and the driver of the Astra (later identified as Endumeni Mayor Richard Mbatha) got into the vehicle.
8. Their conversation was muted but the undercover agent heard “this woman is off sick’ and ‘the person who received the tender for security must be hit first.’
9. The men parted ways. The group in the Fortuner returned to Estcourt. Here they were informed by Mr Majola that Mr Mbatha was looking for people to kill a colleague who had become a stumbling block and he could not have access to tenders. It was said that they would be aid R150 000 for each kill as well as tenders as a means of payment.
10. Details of acquiring ammunition for an AK47 were discussed. Thereafter they parted ways.
11. Further investigations revealed that the Fortuner used belonged to Mr Majola’s sibling and that he had no vehicles registered to him The Opel Astra used by Mr Mbatha also has false number plates and was purchased for Mr Mbatha by a colleague working at the Endumeni Municipality. It was also established that the people the men were conspiring to kill were the Speaker and security tender recipient.
12. The men were arrested on May 23 and 24.
Ms Zungu thereafter proceeded to read out the personal circumstances of each of the men, which includes their marital status, number of dependents and employment.
Outstanding investigations included witness statements, cellphone records and mapping of the accused and photographs, which she indicated could take two months to obtain and finalise.
Advocate Kay Augustine who represented Mr Majola and Makhathini tore into the Io’s affidavit, saying it had several ‘untruths.’ She drew attention to the IO’s remarks that Mr Majola had no vehicles registered to him, but she produced log books of five vehicles registered to Mr Majola. She also encouraged Mr Majola not speak out about the ‘inhumane situation’ that he is being kept in at the prison cells. Mr Majola, since 2010, has been confined to a wheelchair and is a paraplegic.
He has not had a shower since he was at home and has no assistance using the ablution facilities. She drew a comparison with that of Oscar Pistorius who had several amenities due to his physical disability.
As 4pm drew closer, Magistrate Mpungose asked to consult with the state and defence teams in his chambers.
Shortly thereafter it was announced that the bail application would be rolled over to tomorrow at 11am and the three men remain in custody.
Stay posted for more news from tomorrow’s proceedings.