Ngcobo killing accused: five refuse legal help

Five of the six men accused of killing Ngcobo police officers and a soldier earlier in 2018 will conduct their own defence.
Andani Monco, Kwanele Ndlwana, Siphosomzi Tshefu, Siphesihle Tatsi, Phumzile Mhlatywa and Phuthumile Mancoba face eight charges including five of murder, two of attempted murder, nine of robbery with aggravating circumstances, conspiracy, and unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.
They all appeared before a packed Mthatha High Court on Monday.
Mancoba is the only accused who has legal representation. Judge Zamani Ntlangulela felt the need to express his concern about the men’s decision to represent themselves.
“I have many reasons for concern because one, you are not lawyers,” Ntlangulela said.
“You are young and may have never even appeared in court and have no idea of the seriousness and complexity of the charges against you.
“There is a list of about 85 state witnesses and given the fact that when you testify you might call your own witnesses, the number might even be more than 100. We also have to take into account that although there are six accused, each one will be expected to testify and a conflict is likely to rise among the accused, and each one will have to defend himself to maximise chance of acquittal.”
Ntlangulela further stressed that the matter was a court case and not a conversation, and that “defending yourself” was tough. “You can choose a private representative – which can be expensive – or Legal Aid, which will cost you nothing,” Ntlangulela said.
“Legal Aid practitioners, although provided by the government are educated and qualified and have the expertise.”
Ntlangulela said he was uncomfortable with people coming into a high court trial to represent themselves while facing charges that could lead to life imprisonment.
State prosecutor Nomapha Mvandaba told the court that despite consulting with one another and their relatives, the accused had insisted they did not want legal representation.
The trial date was set for April 16.
Although Mancoba’s defence attorney, Niyolise Mahlombe, lamented the five-and-a-half months wait, Ntlangulela said there was no earlier date available as there were six accused, and the five who would represent themselves needed time to prepare...

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