no bail

A COUNCILLOR accused of hiring hitmen to kill her estranged boyfriend was refused bail by the Thabamoopo magistrate's court in Limpopo yesterday.

Ramaredi Patricia Mphahlele, the ANC councillor in the Lepelle-Nkumpi municipality, was appearing for a bail application before magistrate S Matshaba.

She was arrested last week in connection with the murder of Manale Coloured Motebejane, her estranged boyfriend.

Motebejane, 49, was found dead in his house at Mamaolo village on August 16.

At the time he was separated from Mphahlele, who is the ward 20 councillor.

Mphahlele, 40, was arrested after she was implicated in the murder by four men who were initially arrested in connection with the gruesome murder.

The men, who had allegedly refused to apply for bail, allegedly made a confession before a magistrate that they were hired by Mphahlele to kill Motebejane.

Motebejane's body was found next to bricks that police believe were used to batter him to death.

He had also been stabbed with a sharp object.

During her bail application yesterday, Mphahlele's lawyer, Joe Mphahlele, tried unsuccessfully to convince the court that there were no exceptional circumstances that prevented magistrate Matshaba from granting bail to his client.

This was after he had told the court that Patricia Mphahlele was a public figure in her community and that she was not a flight risk.

Although the community of Mamaolo had also presented a memorandum to oppose the granting of bail to Mphahlele, her lawyer argued that it would be unconstitutional to refuse his client bail on the basis of the document.

But Matshaba stood his ground and refused to grant Mphahlele bail, saying her safety should be taken intoconsideration.

"It is the duty of the court to protect every accused person whose safety is at risk if that person is to be granted bail," Matshaba said.

"It is on this basis that the bail application for Mphahlele is turned down. But should new evidence emerge, another bail application can be conhe added.

Defence counsel vowed afterwards that he would appeal the magistrate's decision on the basis that the state did not have a strong case against his client.

Mphahlele is expected to appear in court again alongside her four co-accused onSeptember 30.