Make way, your honour

Dudu Busani

Dudu Busani

The defence team for 11 men standing trial for the Jeppestown massacre submitted a formal application in the Johannesburg high court on Friday for Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng to recuse himself from the case.

The men accused Mokgoatlheng of being biased, referring to a comment he made when one of the accused, Sizwe Dlamini, 21, complained of stomach aches during the trial. The comment was: "Who is going to be sick next week? Speak now." This was after Dlamini had been examined by a doctor who pronounced his condition as "not very serious" and confirmed he was fit to stand trial.

The men are among 13 people, including a woman, standing trial for the June 2006 robbery at a Pick 'n Pay supermarket in Honeydew, which later turned into a bloodbath after a gun battle between police and the alleged robbers at a house in Jeppestown. The incident left four policemen and eight robbers dead.

However, two of the accused, Maria Maleke, 30, and Senzo Mweli, 27, disagreed with their co-accused and asked the judge to remain on the bench. The two have only been charged with robbery and attempted murder, while the rest face 26 counts each, including 12 of murder.