Man found guilty of Glebelands murder
One of the seven men accused of a string of murders at the notorious Glebelands Hostel in Umlazi was found guilty on Thursday of the murder of a woman at the hostel.
Khayelihle "Mroza" Mbuthuma, 32, was convicted of killing Sibongile Princess Mtshali, who was shot dead on the night of July 26, last year, while she was in her room at the hostel.
In convicting Mbuthuma in the Durban Regional Court, Magistrate Bongiwe Mbulawa said she was satisfied with the evidence of an eyewitness, who was in the room with Mtshali when she was shot dead.
"Her evidence was reliable, honest and credible," Mbulawa said.
The witness, who was not identified and who testified in-camera, was referred to as Witness X.
She told the court that she and two other women were at the hostel's Block 46 in Room 33, which belonged to the deceased, on the night of the shooting.
She usually watched TV there and Mtshali sold cooldrinks from the room, the court heard.
Witness X said she knew Mbuthuma and his accomplice, who was only identified as Ntokozo prior to the shooting.
Mbuthuma's co-accused Ntokozo Gwala was acquitted of the murder of Mtshali because of lack of evidence against him. Witness X told the court that he was not the Ntokozo who had shot Mtshali.
The witness testified that the two men knocked at Mtshali's door and asked to buy cooldrink.
When the witness opened the door, the accomplice entered and approached Mtshali.
"As he started shooting her, I pushed him with an intention of fleeing from the room. Mbuthuma, who was also armed with a firearm, stood at the doorway. I saw him as I got out of the room. Our foreheads touched as I ran out, but he didn't harm me," she said.
She told the court that she knew Mbuthuma by his nickname Mroza.
But Mbuthuma denied the allegations.
He testified in his defence and claimed that he was in his room at Block 52 when the shooting occurred.
He watched television with his girlfriend around 20:30 and his girlfriend confirmed his claim in court.
However, Mbulawa questioned how they were able to remember what they did at the time of the shooting, but could not remember what they did days before that.
She rejected Mbuthuma's version.
The State submitted that Mbuthuma acted in the furtherance of a common purpose with Mtshali's killer.
The magistrate found: "It can be safely accepted, as the State correctly suggested, that he (Mbuthuma) was the back-up plan should the shooting inside go wrong. I'm satisfied that the State has proved beyond reasonable doubt that you associated with the shooter of the deceased."
Mbulawa postponed the case to April 3 for arguments in mitigation of sentence.
Mbuthuma and his co-accused Detective Sergeant Bhekukwazi Louis Mdweshu, 37, Ncomekile Matlala Ntshangase‚ 34‚ Eugene Wonderboy Hlope‚ 45‚ Mbuyiselwa Mahliphiza Mkhize‚ 28‚ Vukani Mcobothi‚ 25‚ and Mondli Talente Mthethwa‚ 28‚ face 20 charges related to killings at the hostel from August 2014 to March 2016.
The charges include murder, attempted murder, racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, extortion and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.
After Mbuthuma was found guilty on Wednesday Lieutenant Colonel Bhekumuzi Cosmos Sikhakhane – who is investigating killings at Glebelands - told News24 that the motive for Mtshali's murder was unknown.
"This is just the beginning," he warned.
More than 100 people have died as a result of the violence over the allocation of beds and rooms at the hostel.