Suspects head for high court

Sakhile Mokoena and Riot Hlatshwayo

Sakhile Mokoena and Riot Hlatshwayo

The murder case against eight Mpumalanga men, including a former teacher, who allegedly drained their victim's blood and sold it to a Gauteng sangoma, will be heard in the high court next year.

The Mhala regional court in Thulamahashe has referred the case to the Nelspruit circuit of the Pretoria high court for a three-day trial starting on February 21.

The men are accused of killing Thomas Mathebula, 39, while he was on his way home from a tavern.

The badly mutilated body of Mathebula, a cleaner at the Thulamahashe shopping centre, was later found by a passerby who alerted the police.

Four of the accused, former teacher Boykie Ngobeni, 50, Simon Khosa, 36, Bongani Khosa, 27, and Fumani Moyana, 25, are out on R2000 bail.

Their co-accused, Bhekisizwe Skhumabane, 39, Dingaan Mnisi, 18, Canuel Godi, 19, and Jonathan Gouws, 23, are in police custody after they failed to raise the required money for bail.

Gouws was reportedly the last person to be seen with the deceased.

After news of the murder came out, enraged members of the community cornered him.

They then reportedly dragged him to the railway line between Thulamahashe and Edinburgh.

Once there, they tied him to the railway line, threatening to leave him there until the next train crushed him if he did not tell them who had killed Mathebula.

Sources say the terrified man then implicated the other seven and claimed their motive was to drain their victim's blood and sell it as muti to a sangoma in Gauteng.

Gouws was then taken to the Mhala police station and police promptly arrested the other suspects.

Police say the case is expected to have about 30 state witnesses.