Nine high school pupils and one university student appeared in the East London Magistrate’s Court this week facing charges of murder, assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm and malicious damage to property.
It is the state’s case that the pupils from Umtiza High School near Greenfields and a consumer science student from the Walter Sisulu University (WSU) were in Fleet Street in the early hours of Saturday June 3 when they stoned a bakkie with three occupants inside.
The incident occurred outside the Fleet Street police station.
As a result of the stoning, one occupant got out of the bakkie in a dazed state and collapsed in front of the East London Magistrate’s Court, where he later died.
The three occupants – Bhekithemba Mafulela, Pumlise Nelani and and an unidentified driver – were all residents of KwaZulu-Natal and at the time of the stoning had been travelling in the direction of Greenfields.
East London police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala told the Daily Dispatch yesterday the three victims were stoned by pupils using rocks from the Buffalo City Metro Fleet Street upgrade project.
According to the court charge sheet, the 10 accused are Grade 11 pupil Awonke Philisani, 21; Grade 12 pupil Wanda Mangolithi, 19; Grade 12 pupil Olwethu Ndamazi, 22; Grade 12 pupil Nangamso Thembalipheli, 22; Grade 12 pupil Grace Ruiters, 20; Grade 11 pupil Abongile Stefane, 20; Grade 11 pupil Sibahle Jebe, 18; Grade 11 pupil Xolisa Mncininto, 18; WSU student Siphamandla Blom, 20; and Grade 11 pupil Siyavuya Mabongo, 19.
Mqala said the pupils had a night of fun in town and were looking for a lift home in the early hours of the morning .
The charge sheet states that the youths lived in different residential areas near the East London Airport, such as Igoda township, Leaches Bay, Santa location, and Bongweni location.
Mqala said: “The kids came from the tavern when they saw an open bakkie and asked for a lift.
“They jumped into the bakkie without the driver’s permission. An argument ensued and the owner of the bakkie and his passengers tried to stop them.
“The kids then allegedly threw stones that they took from the construction road at the owner and the passengers of the bakkie.”
One passenger died and two were injured.
They appeared before magistrate Rochelle Sam on Monday morning.
Prosecutor Asanda Nolusu told the magistrate that the state was still waiting for a postmortem report, police forensic pictures taken from the scene on the morning in question and a chain-of-evidence report.
The families of Philisani, Mangolithi, Jebe, Mncininto, and Blom have enlisted the service of private attorney Sinazo Maphelo of Mquqo Attorneys while Ndamazi, Thembalipheli, Ruiters, Stefane and Mabongo are being represented by a public defender from Legal Aid South Africa. The 10 have not yet pleaded to the charges against them.
They were all released on R500 bail after Umtiza High School principal Mluleki Thomas had to motivate why the pupils should be released on bail.
He wrote to the court saying the pupils were busy writing their crucial mid-year exams. Thomas accompanied his letters by attaching the pupils’ examination timetable.
Fleet Street detective Warrant Officer Mziwamadoda Henderson has been tasked with investigating the case.
The case has been postponed to September 17 for further investigation. — firstname.lastname@example.org