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'Baby Khensani' suspect acquitted

By unknown | Feb 29, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

Mfundekelwa Mkhulisi

One of the four men accused of murder and robbery was acquitted by the Johannesburg High Court yesterday.

Phana Makhanya who was accused number one in the case, was discharged because Judge Nigel Willis could not find evidence "of a direct nature" that linked him to the crime.

"The informer who identified the robbers did not mention you in this court or in a statement that he made to the police," said Willis.

Menzi Hlongwa, 20, Siphamandla Sigidi Gasela, 22, and Phikani Sibongiseni Ngidi, 24, are still standing trial. The trial is a sequel to a robbery in the city centre in which 15-month-old baby Khensani Mitileni was shot while on her mother's back. Another victim Sindisiwe Zuma, died five months later of gunshot wounds.

About nine people were also hit by stray bullets following the shooting between Coin Security guards and the alleged robbers.

Reading his decision the judge said: "A verdict of not guilty has been returned and you are discharged."

The judge said there was no reasonable possibility that any of the accused may implicate him in the case. Last week, confessions by Makhanya were ruled inadmissible after his lawyer claimed that he was assaulted and forced to make them.

As he walked down the steps into the holding cells, Makhanya sighed and said: "You know, I do not believe this."

Then Gasela and Ngidi took the witness stand to be cross examined, and both denied that they were anywhere near the scene of the crime.


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