Rhodes murder accused to hear about his bail bid

The Rhodes University student accused of being the mastermind behind the brutal torture and murder of a Grahamstown man he suspected of stealing his laptop, will find out today if he will be released on bail.

Thembani Onceya in court. Picture: FILE
Thembani Onceya in court. Picture: FILE

Closing arguments were heard for the second time by magistrate Lindelwa Figlan yesterday after the state last week said they had further evidence implicating Thembani Onceya in the brutal torture and murder of Thembalani Qwakanisa.

The decision to reopen the bail application to hear the new evidence was made after prosecutor Lyle Prins said it had suddenly become available as the investigation was still ongoing.

Qwakanisa’s body was found wrapped in a carpet in a township dam early last month and two of Onceya’s brothers and two friends were arrested soon afterwards.

The third-year anthropology and Xhosa student was arrested the next day when he heard police were looking for him and he handed himself in.

He has been in custody since.

Williams yesterday disputed the “new evidence” was in fact new, saying it was already available to the state before Prins made his closing argument for the first time last week.

He also accused investigating officer Detective John Manzana of “sabotaging” his client’s bail application after it emerged he could not find an address in Port Alfred where Onceya could stay if bailed, despite having a phone number to contact the homeowner.

Manzana admitted he did not try to phone the number and Onceya’s aunt Nompumelelo Nxakana was yesterday called by Williams to testify that she did in fact have a house in the street.

Nxakana admitted she had given the wrong house number.

She also said Manzana had contacted her late on Friday last week saying he could not find the house, but turned down offers from her to take him there.

Nxakana said Manzana told her: “Why can’t I leave him in prison as his family [his two brothers] were also there?”

Claims by Prins that new witnesses and bank affidavits showing Onceya’s cash card was used at two taverns – disproving his alibi that he was in his university residence room when Qwakanisa was killed – were disputed by Williams.

Figlan said she needed time to digest the new evidence and would deliver judgment today. — davidm@dispatch.co.za