Eight women to hear their bail outcome today following death of wrongfully accused matriculant.
HORRIFIED community members and swift action by police investigating the mob killing of Nompumelelo Township matriculant Mbulelo Mtati who was wrongfully accused of trying to snatch children in the city, saw eight women appear briefly in the East London Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
And there were indications in court that more arrests could follow.
Police spokesman Captain Stephen Marais said a number of people in the Nompumelelo community had come forward to assist the police with information about Mtati’s gruesome killing on Sunday and police had worked quickly to secure a breakthrough.
The eight women were expected to apply for bail before magistrate Fanie Stander but the bail hearing was postponed to today. Although no details of the charges faced by the women appeared on the charge sheet, the State indicated yesterday that it would oppose bail as the alleged offence is a Schedule 5 crime, which includes murder and attempted murder.
The investigating officer in the case, Detective Sergeant Daymon Marenschek is expected to give evidence opposing bail. Mtati was stoned and beaten to death on Sunday by a group of women in Nompumelelo who thought he was snatching children. The horrific turn of events came after false rumours spread through East London last Friday that children were being kidnapped by a child trafficking syndicate.
Those appearing in court yesterday were: Zikona Sicikwana, 30, Tembakazi Baliso, 26, Tandiswa Novoyi, 30, Nomawethu Nguqu, 33, Azola Somilio, 23, Tembakazi Dubani, 25, Nocawe Sase, 22 and Atini Gwebushe, 22. All were listed as being resident of Nompumelelo, except Novoyi, whose address was given as Kigwali Street, Gonubie.
Before the lunch adjournment, they sat quietly in the dock in full view of the public, before going to the cells downstairs to consult with their legal aid. They were eventually returned to the court from the cells after lunch. By then, each had wrapped a scarf around her face to hide her identity, causing magistrate Stander to rebuke them as they stumbled to find their places in the dock.
Mtati was killed at about 10am on Sunday while he was on his way to study for his matric exams.
At the time, police said they believed the Nompumelelo mob that stoned, kicked and beat the youth to death had wrongly connected him with baseless rumours of child-snatching doing the rounds in the city.
An eyewitness told the Dispatch that he and a friend had heard a commotion outside and went to see what was going on. “People were yelling, throwing stones and hitting him with steel pipes and tools, and kicking him and stamping on him,” Monde Dabeni said.
On Monday, Mtati’s devastated mother Nomfuneko Mtati, said the young man had been collecting empty bottles along the way which he would sell to help feed the family.
Yesterday, she expressed relief at the quick action of the police.
She said the family had received huge support from members of the public and government officials, including Buffalo City Metro Mayor Zukiswa Ncitha, who had visited her home to offer her condolences.
MEC for safety and security Helen Sauls-August complimented the community and the police over the positive development in the case. She said it was often very difficult to identify perpetrators in cases of mob violence.
Mtati said her son will be buried on November 16.