Court REJECTS BID to DROP CASE

THE application by the defence counsel representing three University of Limpopo students to have murder charges against one of the accused withdrawn was dismissed by the Polokwane magistrate's court yesterday.

THE application by the defence counsel representing three University of Limpopo students to have murder charges against one of the accused withdrawn was dismissed by the Polokwane magistrate's court yesterday.

Three students, George Tsoai, Raymond Mabelebele and Tibane Serumule, stand accused of murdering Nkosinathi Mhlongo.

Mhlongo was allegedly beaten and thrown out of a moving bus during an academic trip in February 2008.

The three were also accused of murdering Mhlongo using bricks that were allegedly picked up during a stopover in Mookgophong.

Yesterday defence counsel Johannes Mpapule made an application to have charges against Serumule withdrawn.

Mpapule also wanted Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act to be applied, indicating that there was no prima facie evidence against Serumule.

He made the application before magistrate Doctor Nkuna shortly after the state had closed its case, but the application was dismissed on "common purpose" grounds.

Prosecutor Sam Mamabolo argued that Mpapule's application that Serumule was not involved in Mhlongo's murder should not be accepted.

The last state witness, Aaron Makamu, who was seated on the left-hand side of Mhlongo in the bus when the deceased was attacked, told the court he only saw Tsoai and Mabelebele assaulting Mhlongo with bricks.

The assault happened during an academic trip from Pretoria.

But the accused have not told the court how they threw Mhlongo out of the bus.

Tsoai only confirmed the assault.

Mhlongo was allegedly assaulted for raising concerns about Tsoai and his co-accused endangering the lives of other passengers with their smoking.

While advocating for the charge's withdrawal, Mpapule said state witnesses had at no time implicated Serumule in the commission of the crime.

He told Nkuna that the credibility of evidence by state witnesses did not have much against the applicant.

But Mamabolo and Nkuna argued that Serumule had appreciated Tsoai and Mabelebele's attack on Mhlongo.

When rejecting the application Nkuna said that Section 174 could not be applied because Serumule had acted in common purpose with his co-accused.

The state and defence were still arguing on the merits of the evidence submitted by the state witnesses.

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