The young woman charged with aiding two of the Eastern Cape’s most notorious criminals in a deadly escape bid broke down in tears yesterday after admitting guilt following a plea bargain.
Aviwe Bila, 23, pleaded guilty to two lesser charges of culpable homicide after her defence successfully argued for the two counts of murder against her to be thrown out of court.
Bila is accused of planting a 9mm Norinco pistol in a bin at the entrance to the Mthatha High Court in September last year.
The gun was retrieved by cashin-transit heist kingpin Sakhumzi Mvoko and Bila’s brother, Yandisa Bila.
A fierce gun battle ensued between the convicted criminals and members of the National Intervention Unit and department of correctional services (DCS) task team from the Kokstad C-Max prison.
Yesterday, the court heard that Mvoko was shot in the head and back while Bila succumbed to gun wounds on his abdomen and legs.
Bila was arrested three weeks later and charged with seven counts including murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, and aiding a prisoner to escape.
She appeared yesterday before Judge Fathima Dawood in the Mthatha High Court.
A DCS task team officer who was shot in the buttocks, Mduduzi Ngubelanga, was also in court and appeared well.
Bila and her defence counsel Advocate Matthew Mpahlwa briefly went outside court for an in loco inspection of the scene of the gun battle, with her standing a few steps from where both inmates lay dead last year.
In mitigation of sentence, senior state prosecutor Sibusiso Nolutshungu said Bila had been unduly influenced by her late brother who ordered her to get a gun from a coconspirator known only as “Oros”. Oros has never been traced. Nolutshungu further stated she had an eight-year-old daughter who was being cared for by her diabetic mother, had no previous conviction, was unemployed and “totally remorseful” of her actions.
NPA spokesman Luxolo Tyali said the plea agreement had been reached between both parties after careful consideration of the legal factors and in the interests of justice.
Dawood set the matter down for sentencing on Friday and Bila remains in custody.