Cape Town links to EC taxi violence – lawyer

Links between the Western Cape and Eastern Cape have emerged in a Mthatha murder trial involving alleged taxi hitmen.

On Friday, explaining why one of three alleged hired killers, Vuyo Mahlope, was not present in the Mthatha Magistrate’s Court for his bail application, state prosecutor Siphokazi Marman said he was in court in Cape Town on another matter – one that was linked to the case in Mthatha.

Marman said the state would argue that the accused were hired to kill “by a driver of a certain taxi association, which we cannot name at this stage for safety reasons”.

“They organised a firearm and ammunition, as well as a vehicle, for the accused even travelled all the way from Cape Town to carry out the hit.”

The other two accused, Mncedi Fafi and Ntanjana Kholwana, were in court on Friday.

They are part of a group arrested last month in Libode in connection with ongoing taxi violence.

Defence lawyer Sthembele Mgxaji said it was contemptuous of the prosecutor to just “throw those words”.

Mgxaji asked her to elaborate and said on the previous Friday – at the three men’s first appearance – they had been “remanded in this court for today, meaning this court has jurisdiction”.

“Either there was a summons or a warrant for the accused to appear in that Cape Town court today. It cannot just be that he is not here when he is supposed to be.”

Marman said they were under the impression that the accused would have returned from Cape Town in time for Friday’s hearing.

She said she could not elaborate further without revealing aspects of the case that the court was not yet entitled to hear.

“We believe the evidence taken in Cape Town will assist in this particular case,” she added.

The bail hearing was postponed until Wednesday, with an assurance from the prosecutor that Mahlope would be available on the day. —