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No bail for baby Nkhensani's suspected killers

By unknown | Jul 06, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Getrude Makhafola and Rebaone Mangope

Getrude Makhafola and Rebaone Mangope

The day 15-month-old Nkhensani Mtileni was killed in the Johannesburg city centre was recalled in the Johannesburg magistrates' court yesterday.

Three of the four men accused of the baby's murder were denied bail by magistrate Suzanne Dupisani, who said they were a danger to society and could not be released.

The baby was killed by a stray bullet in a shoot-out between the men and police after a robbery in the city centre.

Seven other people were injured in the shootout.

The fourth man, Siphamandla Gasela, 23, had abandoned his bail application earlier.

The case against Gasela and his co-accused, Phama Makhaya, 27, Menzi Hlongwa, 20, and Phikani Ngidi, 23, was postponed pending a decision by the Directorate for Public Prosecutions on whether to transfer the case to the high court.

The court heard that Ngidi had a string of outstanding cases and warrants of arrest under his name stretching from 1998.

Ngidi is currently facing three murder charges, as well as that of baby Nkhensani.

A charge of attempted murder in Hillbrow after the murder of baby Nkhensani has been added to his list of charges.

Charges against three other suspects who were arrested after the shootout have since been withdrawn.

The released men are Muhle Mazibuko, Mozambican national Laurent Alfonso and Bhekizwe Ndlovu.

An eighth suspect committed suicide in January while traveling to KwaZulu-Natal as part of the investigation.

The suspects had staged a robbery when two security guards collected money from a Charlie Parkers store on busy Bree Street in downtown Johannesburg.

While the gunmen were trying to take money boxes from the store, a shootout ensued between them, security guards and the police.

Baby Nkhensani's mother, Cynthia Mtileni, had just stepped out of a taxi when a stray bullet hit baby Nkhensani, who was strapped to her back. She died instantly.

Dupisani said that besides the other charges the accused faced, it was disheartening that a toddler had been robbed of her life.

"In this bail application the suspects had to prove exceptional circumstances that would satisfy the court to grant them bail," she said.

"This has not been proven and Ngidi has other outstanding cases against him, therefore they will remain in custody."

The suspects also face four counts of attempted murder, armed robbery and charges related to the possession of an unlicensed firearm.


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