FULL STORY: Estcourt and Dundee IFP leaders to face trial in August (video included)

Inkatha Freedom Party’s Councillor Mthembeni Majola, alongside alleged hit man Xolani Makhathini and Endumeni (Dundee) Local Municipality Mayor Richard Mbatha in court this morning.

In a stark contrast to their previous court appearance, Inkatha Freedom Party’s leaders Party Councillor Mthembeni Majola, Endumeni (Dundee) Local Municipality Mayor Richard Mbatha alongside alleged hit man Xolani Makhathini entered an almost empty B courtroom at the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court this morning.

ALSO READ: BREAKING NEWS: State granted six week adjournment for crucial cellphone evidence in IFP leaders’ case

All three men have been charged with two counts each of conspiracy to commit murder. Today marked their first appearance since they were granted bail in early June.

READ MORE HERE: BREAKING NEWS: IFP Councillor, Endumeni Mayor and co-accused granted bail (video included)

With an easy-going attitude and laughter among them, they settled into the dock in court, and waited for Magistrate Sam Mpungose to get proceedings underway, which started at 10.30am.

Senior State Prosecutor Mr Zulu began the proceedings by stating the nature of the charges and stated that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions based in KwaZulu-Natal has issued an instruction to prosecute the accused.

He said that since those instructions, investigations had not concluded and outstanding evidence included cellphone and cellphone mapping records. He added that a third piece of evidence, a photo album, had already been showed to him by the Investigating Officer (IO) Warrant Officer Milton Mandla Ndlovu.

He said that the IO had requested a time period of six weeks to finalise the investigations before the matter could be transferred to a regional court.

Advocate Kay Augustine, representing Mr Majola and Mr Makhathini pointed out that it has already been a month since the last court appearance and emphasised the accused’s’ right to a speedy trial.

She spoke of Mr Majola and Mr Mbatha’s prominence in the political sphere, saying that the six-week delay would pose a threat to them carrying out their political duties. She called the requested six-week postponement be denied.

Echoing these sentiments was Advocate Mlotshwa, representing Endumeni Mayor Mr Mbatha. He labelled the IO’s affidavit as having unreliable information and based on contradictions.

“The state is skating on thin ice. The case is weak, especially against accused number two (Mr Mbatha).”

Based on this and other case studies that were cited, he said that the prosecutor should ask himself a frank question: “Do I proceed with prosecution on this matter?”

Senior State Prosecutor Mr Zuma thereafter reminded the court that the strength of the case is based on the evidence that is awaited, which forced the adjournment.

“This offence is alleged to be committed through communication by the accused by the use of a cell phone, that is why cell phone records evidence is crucial,” he said.

Magistrate Sam Mpungose, in his judgement, declared that he did not think the six-week adjournment was unreasonable.

“I think it is in the best interests of justice to be granted so it can expedite the investigations. The case is still new and I can understand why the records have not been obtained yet,” he said.

Richard Mbatha, Mthembeni Majola and Advocate Kay Augustine.

Mr Mpungose granted the postponed and the case will resume on August 13. The IFP leaders left the courtroom and were greeted by cheers, songs and applause outside the courtroom.

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  AUTHOR
Ronelle Mungaroo
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