Guns used in the murder of five Ngcobo policemen were stolen from police officers in Butterworth and Cala.
This shocking admission was made in court by two multiple murder and robbery accused, – Kwanele Ndlwana, 22, and Siphosomzi Tshefu, 23 – at their formal bail applications in the Ngcobo Magistrate’s Court yesterday.
The duo appeared in court alongside their co-accused, Andani Monco, Siphesihle Tatsi, Phumzile Mhlatywa and Phuthumile Mancoba, brother of Thandazile, who was killed by police a day or two later.
Mancoba is a church leader in the infamous Angels Ministry Church, which is accused of being involved in a gang of seven gunmen who went on a police-killing spree.
They were all arrested in connection with the massacre of five Ngcobo police members and an off-duty soldier last month, and face five counts of murder, two of robbery with aggravated circumstances, one of attempted murder and one of possessing an unlicensed firearm.
Thandazile Mancoba and two more of his brothers, Xolisa and Philile, were among the seven people shot dead when a police task team raided the controversial church in Nyanga village in the aftermath of the killing of the five police members.
Ndlwana, who was the first to take to the stand to be cross-examined by senior state prosecutor Nomapha Mvandaba, caused a stir when he admitted that the guns used to shoot the first two officers had been taken earlier from police officers based in Cala and Butterworth.
“One was taken in Gcuwa [Butterworth] and another in Cala, from a female police officer,” he said.
Ndlwana further confessed that he was present when two police officers were gunned down near Nyanga High School, and that a firearm was also taken from them, which was among the weapons used during the ambush of the Ngcobo police station.
Tshefu then took the stand and confirmed that he had personally disarmed and taken the firearm of one of the two police officers killed near Nyanga High School before driving to the Ngcobo police station and then to a Capitec bank branch.
He said he was later instructed by Thandazile to give the weapon he had taken to Vumile Mhlatywa and Siyasanga Mfazwe so that they could hide it.
The gunman said that after the shootings they tried to break into the bank, which is located about 500 metres from the Ngcobo police station.
Magistrate Nozuko Mviko warned the accused that whatever they said during their cross-examination could be used as admissible evidence in their trial and advised them that they had a right not to answer questions that could incriminate them.
Prosecutor Nomapha Mvandaba said not all the firearms stolen during the ambush at the police station had been recovered, which made it unsafe for the community.
“You have placed yourself at the scene of the crime and made the court aware of what happened. What guarantee can you give this court that should you be granted bail, you won’t kill the police,” she asked.
Ndlwana then dropped another bombshell, saying that one reason why he no longer had a weapon to use or any intention of killing police was that his own father worked for the SAPS in the province.
Asked by magistrate Mviko why he wanted bail, Ndlwana said his family was in the dark about his arrest, including his sister, who had been married to Thandazile Mancoba.
While Monco reiterated that he did not plan to apply for bail, Phuthumile Mancoba’s Legal Aid SA representative told Mviko that he was tied up in the regional court and asked for the bail hearing of his client to be moved to March19.
The magistrate told the two accused that they had to provide exceptional circumstances for their bail applications to succeed, as the charges they faced, according to the law, ruled that they should stay in custody until the case was finalised.
Mvandaba told the court if Ndlwana was granted bail it would make a mockery of the court due to the severity of the charges.
The next hearing is due on March 19.
lOn Thursday Ngcobo municipality was poised to ask the court for a ruling to have the Angel Ministry Church building demolished. Mayor Lizeka Bongo-Tyali said “they had brought nothing but share to our area”. — firstname.lastname@example.org