Five fail to scrap confessions

Stan Mzimba

Five Eastern Cape men charged with the murder of a senior Ntabankulu municipal official in 2004 yesterday lost a bid to have their statements and confessions to the police thrown out of court.

Linda Xana, 19, Thandisizwe Mamba, 22, Simphiwe Ngumbela, 26, Khululekile Msiya, 43, and Sinawo Mani, 26, pleaded not guilty before Judge Xola Petse to the murder of Siyabonga Sikuza, 38.

The accused have also been charged with armed robbery and the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition

Senior state counsel Slumko Nqwala said on the morning of August 22 2004, Memani, Mamba and Ngumbela left Dutywa for Mthatha with the sole purpose of hijacking a vehicle.

When they arrived in Mthatha they saw Sikuza's vehicle parked outside a house. At the time Sikuza was the municipal human resource manager.

Nqwala alleged that the trio approached the car and saw Sikuza seated on the passenger seat speaking on a cellphone.

They allegedly ordered him to get out of the car. In the process, a shot was fired, killing Sikuza instantly.

According to the state, the firearm used was later found in Mani's possession .

A second firearm, also allegedly used during this crime, was allegedly found in Msiya's possession. Sikuza's vehicle was found parked outside a tavern in Butterworth three weeks later.

Last week the trial went into a trial-within-a-trial stage to test the admissibility of the statements and confessions the accused made to the police.

After hearing evidence from six detectives, Judge Petse ruled he was satisfied the men's statements had been made voluntarily.

The judge said if the police had assaulted the men, as they claimed, they should have laid charges against the police.

Petse added that there was no evidence that any of the accused were taken to a doctor for a medical examination.

The trial continues.