legal bungle slows case

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

The high-profile Jeppestown trial has been delayed yet again because of lack of communication between the prosecution and defence lawyers.

The trial was scheduled to start in the Johannesburg high court on Monday.

It had to be postponed twice after state prosecutor Joanie Spies claimed that out of 10 defence lawyers, only two had followed court arrangements and consulted with her.

The 10 lawyers, all from the Legal Aid Board, had to confirm a court admissions document with Spies after the state decided against all 13 accused during the admission process jointly.

Today, the journey to the fate of Maria Maleke, 29, Senzo Mweli, 26, Nkosinathi Mchunu, 31, Sizwe Mbuyazi, 25, Khumbulani Mabaso, 33, Sizwe Dlamini, 21, Sihle Mdunge, 25, Muzulelwa Vezi, 28, Siyanda Mngomezulu, 23, Linda Hlongwa, 22, Bekokwakhe Zulu, 28, Mkhonzeni Sesiba, 29 and Zinto Mqunu, 27, will finally begin.

Maleka, the only female accused, is alleged to have been the mastermind behind the robbery, committed by the 12 men at a Pick 'n Pay supermarket in Honeydew where she was employed.

On June 25 2006, more than 20 men walked into the supermarket and demanded money from the staff and customers.

The robbery went ahead as planned, except that one of them, Thembinkosi Tshabalala, was arrested later that day. He has since died.

He led the police to a house in Jeppestown where the rest of the men had gathered. When police arrived a gun battle ensued between the two parties. After almost five hours, four policemen and eight of the men were lying dead.

The trial is set to run until March 31 continuously under tight security as 12 of the accused are regarded as highly dangerous.