Decapitation murder suspects claim cop assault
Njabulo Mhlongo and Luyanda Zulu, both 20, told the Durban High Court, through their lawyers, that they were assaulted by SAPS and metro police officers soon after their arrests and forced to make false statements.
This resulted in a trial-within- a-trial.
Mhlongo claimed his rights were not explained to him and that he made his statement involuntarily.
Zulu also claimed he was assaulted into pointing out the crime scene.
Mhlongo, Zulu, Thulasizwe Nene, Njabulo Mbatha, Simphiwe Ntshangase and a minor are accused of killing Phiwayinkosi Mhlongo. His body was found near a stormwater drain close to his home in C-Section, uMlazi, and his head was found at a school in F-Section in April last year.
The accused also face charges of kidnapping and being in possession of illegal firearms.
Phiwayinkosi was allegedly abducted at gunpoint by the six, some of whom are known to his family.
Yesterday, the lawyers argued that their clients’ rights were violated, saying the evidence was collected in an unconstitutional manner and therefore asked the court to reject evidence which emanated from the pointing-out.
State advocate Krishen Shah had intended presenting the pair’s statements to the court as evidence; however judgment in the trial-within-a-trial would determine whether this evidence would be admissible in the main trial.
Last week, Mbatha had denied the contents of his confession made before a magistrate after his arrest in May last year.
In the disputed statement, read to the court as part of the State’s evidence, Mbatha detailed the gruesome decapitation and how they had planned to murder Phiwayinkosi because they believed he had “sold out” Ntshangase’s brother to the police.
Ntshangase’s brother was killed by a mob earlier last year as a result.
According to Mbatha’s statement, they took the head to the spot where Ntshangase’s body was found.
Mbatha’s lawyer, advocate Theuns Botha, had told the court that Mbatha would deny writing the statement.
Botha said that Mbatha would tell the court that the magistrate came with a pre-written statement, which was read to him, and he was told to sign it.
However, magistrate Gert van Rooyen had testified that Mbatha was a willing participant and told him he was sorry about the murder and wanted to tell the truth.
Yesterday, State witness Warrant Officer Sphiwe Nxumalo, a cells commander at uMlazi Police Station, rejected Mhlongo and Mbatha’s claims that they were assaulted by police.
He said he was with them when they were detained and could confirm that they had no injuries or signs that they were assaulted.
Referring to the record of entries he made of all the visits to the cells, Nxumalo confirmed there were no complaints and no injured detainees.
“If there were those who showed signs that they were assaulted or injured, I would have recorded that in the book, escalated the complaint to my superiors and would have arranged for the detainees to get medical help,” he testified.
The trial-within-a-trial continues.