Accused in eight murders denied bail

Pupil Sanele Mthiyane was killed in family massacre.
Pupil Sanele Mthiyane was killed in family massacre.

A KwaZulu-Natal business man who is facing eight counts of murder has been denied bail again.

The South African National Civic Organisation (Sanco) yesterday welcomed the decision by the Mtubatuba regional court to deny Tholinhlanhla Ngwane bail for allegedly orchestrating a string of murders in Mpembeni village.

Ngwane, 36, appeared in court yesterday where prosecutor Micheal Mkhumbuzi argued that the accused should be denied bail on grounds that the crimes he is charged with were serious and that he was likely to torment witnesses.

He has attempted to get bail seven times but it was denied by the court. Ngwane faces eight murder charges, three counts of attempted murder, three counts of unlawful possession of firearms and possession of live ammunition.

His lawyer Patrick Msweli pleaded with magistrate Masood Naidu to grant him bail, saying his client had been in custody for far too long.

"The accused is a breadwinner and the continuation of his incarceration is having a negative impact on his family.

"He is not a flight risk and has no previous convictions or pending cases hanging over him," submitted Msweli.

Ngwane, together with his uncle Meshack Ngwane, 38, have been charged following a number of murders in the village over what is believed to be coal and oil tenders.

The deadly conflict was allegedly triggered by a feud over coal and oil tenders awarded by giant minerals producer Richards Bay Minerals.

The company previously said it was aware of the killings but said they "knew nothing about the alleged pending oil project".

Meshack is currently out on a R15,000 bail and faces four counts of murder.

In May, Sowetan reported about a family massacre where four members were killed, including a two-year-old baby and a grade 12 pupil.

They were attacked at night and their house torched.

The tragedy was also linked to ongoing feud which police said had claimed about 30 lives since 2016. "This is victory for residents of Mpembeni as well as for innocent people who were murdered. We were strongly opposed to his release. Our plea is for justice to prevail," said Sanco regional secretary Castro Nsibande.

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