'Hitmen' in the dock
A traditional healer is at the centre of a multiple murder case being heard at the East London High Court, where five men are facing a string of charges including racketeering and four counts of murder.
Dubbed the “contract killers”, the men have pleaded not guilty to all the charges against them.
Vuyani Sibanda, Isaac Phiri, Thabiso Mini, Sakhela Magasana and Makhaya Qwala are standing trial for the crimes while a sixth suspect, Ntsikelelo Manani is at large. The men were aged between 27 and 69 when the charges were made against them.
It is alleged by the state that they were hired to carry out contract killings in 2010 for which they received thousands of rands per murder.
The crimes were committed in East London, King William’s Town, Mdantsane and Fort Beaufort.
According to court papers Manani and Phiri were hired to murder three women in exchange for R30,000.
“Accused number three [Phiri] shot Tozama Tenge in the head. She died on the scene as a result of the gunshot wound,” part of the papers read.
“On the afternoon of May 16, 2010 [Phiri] was not available and [Manani] recruited [Mini] to assist him murder (Nontsikelelo) Sibamba. At her home they demanded money and when she said she had none, they tied her hands and legs with wire and searched her home. [Mini] shot her twice in the head.”
The identity of the third woman is unknown to the state.
It is further alleged Sibanda was hired to murder James Duka for R40,000.
The State’s case is that Sibanda negotiated with Manani and Phiri to murder Duka for R20,000.
On May 15 2010 Manani and Phiri entered and hid in Duka’s King William’s Town yard and when he arrived Manani shot him and he died on the scene before fleeing the scene with Phiri. The pair were transported by Qwala to Mdantsane.
Sibanda is said to have been a traditional healer to one of the people killed, businessman Mshiceleli Ndita, and also planned to rob him of his money.
“Accused number one [Sibanda] became acquainted with accused number six [Qwala] who conspired and procured accused number two and three [Manani and Phiri] to murder Duka and rob Ndita for him,” the papers say.
The state further alleges that Ndita owned cash loan businesses and Sibanda provided Manani and Phiri with information regarding the procedures followed by his client at the end of each month, in order to facilitate the robbery.
“The deceased [Ndita] was attacked at his home by Manani, Phiri, Mini and Magasana when when he resisted he was shot and he died on the scene.”
The accused demanded money, bank cards, jewellery, cellphones and car keys.
Ndita’s wife was shot and injured during the robbery.
The trial continues tomorrow.