Rattray murder accused in court

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

Freedom of speech and the media won the day in the Dundee magistrates' court on Friday when one of the two suspects accused of murdering historian David Rattray appeared.

One of the investigators tried to throw the people in the gallery as well as the media out of the courtroom.

But Magistrate Vusi Hlatshwayo did not take kindly to the investigator's actions.

He demanded that the people be brought back in.

"The public has a right to know what is happening and barring the media from the court is illegal," said an unimpressed Hlatshwayo.

Rattray, 48, died after he was shot three times in the chest at close range during an alleged attempted robbery at his Fugitive Drift's Lodge.

The suspect, who walked into court barefoot and covered with a grey blanket, stood motionless in the dock. He was not asked to plead.

During the proceedings prosecutor Vernita Brown requested that the names and pictures of the suspects not be published before an identity parade had been held. The magistrate agreed to this demand.

The SABC TV crew were, however, later ordered to leave the court after being caught trying to film the proceedings.

Meanwhile, the other suspect, who reached a plea-bargain with the Pietermaritzburg high court where he appeared last Friday, was found guilty by Judge Jan Hugo.

The case was postponed to Friday for further investigation and the suspect, Fete Nkwanyana, 23, is expected to consult with his lawyers for a bail application.

Nkwanyana has been charged with murder, attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He had confessed to the police and named all the other men that went with him to Rattray's home on January 26.

He told the police they had gone to rob Rattray but had left empty-handed after he was shot.

Nkwanyana will be sentenced today.