KwaZulu-Natal - Fifteen Durban policemen who are alleged to have beaten a man to death – over the alleged theft of a firearm belonging to one of them – have pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, assault and robbery, among other charges.
In his opening address before Pietermaritzburg Regional Court magistrate, Riaan De Wet, on Wednesday, prosecutor Martin Mtambo said all the charges stemmed from incidents that took place on the night of October 28, 2010.
The policemen, some from the Pinetown crime intelligence unit and others who are members of the Inanda tactical response team, are alleged to have killed 40-year-old Nhlanhla Luthuli in the Zamani area of Mpumalanga Township and assaulted his girlfriend, Amanda Ncube.
They allegedly beat Luthuli to death while dragging him from house to house in search of a stolen firearm.
Mtambo told the court that the State would seek to prove that some time before the night of the murder, the house of one of the accused, Phumlani Mkhize, was broken into and his firearm was stolen. Mkhize allegedly soon received information on the whereabouts of his stolen firearm.
“On the night of the incidents, all the accused went to a house in Mpumalanga Township that was rented by Luthuli. However, he was not there and the house was occupied by his son, Mondli,” Mtambo said.
Mtambo said the men stormed the house, breaking furniture. It was then that Mondli was assaulted.
“The accused told Mondli to tell them where his father was and he took them to a nearby house owned by Amanda Ncube, where they found Luthuli,” Mtambo said.
The accused are alleged to have questioned Luthuli on the whereabouts of the stolen firearm, but he denied knowledge of this and was then allegedly assaulted.
Luthuli was then taken to his mother’s house and then back to Ncube’s house, and later to a house belonging to one Ngcobile Jali, in search of the firearm. When the firearm could still not be found, Luthuli was allegedly assaulted.
Eventually, Luthuli was put into the back of one of the police vehicles and the policemen drove off in a convoy.
The next morning, a passer-by discovered a naked and bloodied Luthuli at a bus stop near Ncube’s home. He was taken to hospital where he was declared dead.
The accused are: Phumlani Mkhize, 29, Thulani Magagula, 49, Vusi Mzobe, 35, and Emmanuel Vezi (age unknown), who are members of the Pinetown crime intelligence unit; and Mluleki Duma, 33, Siyabonga Ndesi, 39, Londoloza Ngema, 24, Andile Ndlovu, 29, Siyabonga Mthethwa (age unknown), Dumisani Gumede, 34, Lindisenzo Mseleku, 26, Skhumbuzo Khomo, 29, Lucky Mseleku, 33, Celumusa Ngcobo (age unknown) and Thuthuka Ngcobo, 24, who are all members of the Inanda tactical response team.
They are all on bail of R5 000 each. - Daily News