Murder suspect nabbed in court

THERE was drama at the Mhala magistrate's court when a man regarded as a habitual stock thief was rearrested right inside the courtroom and charged with murder.

The arrest follows yesterday's Sowetan exposé that a magistrate had allegedly interfered with the murder case, resulting in the man mysteriously being granted bail.

Solly Zitha, of Sgagule, near Acornhoek, was out on R800 bail that was granted to him after a prosecutor, identified only as Mangombe, allegedly misrepresented facts. Mangombe had told the court that Zitha was facing charges of assault and damage to property.

This was "obviously" a direct violation of the law because the docket against Zitha also read, among other charges, that he was facing a charge of murder.

The two, Zitha and his aunt Alinah Magagula, are accused of hacking to death Vhamia Hlabangwane, 73, who had allegedly been to Zitha's house to collect the cattle that the latter had allegedly stolen.

Zitha had previously been arrested more than 20 times on charges of stock theft but nothing came of the cases in the Mhala court.

Zitha and Magagula were allegedly among a group that attacked Hlabangwane with spades and other objects as she led her "stolen" cattle out of Zitha's premises on December 23.

Hlabangwane was critically wounded and died a few hours later.

Police later arrested Zitha and Magagula, who appeared in court briefly on December 29. They were remanded pending their next court appearance on January 5.

But the magistrate allegedly changed the date from January 5 to January 4 without consulting the family, or the investigating officer.