Ngcobo massacre witness ‘cried and prayed’

She and others were locked inside a bakkie until colleague opened it

IMPASSIVE: Andani Monco, Kwanele Ndlwana, Siphosethu Tshefu, Siphosomzi Tatsi and Phumzile Mhlatywa appeared in the Mthatha high court on Thursday yesterday.
ZIYANDA ZWENI IMPASSIVE: Andani Monco, Kwanele Ndlwana, Siphosethu Tshefu, Siphosomzi Tatsi and Phumzile Mhlatywa appeared in the Mthatha high court on Thursday yesterday.

“We cried and prayed for a very long time.”

This was the testimony of Sergeant Pumla Limane who told Mthatha high court judge Robert Griffiths how she and other police officials were locked inside the back of a police bakkie by the armed men who invaded the Ngcobo station and shot their colleagues.

Five members of the Mancoba Angels cult – Andani Monco, Siphosomzi Tshefu, Kwanele Ndlwane, and Siphesihle Tatsi and Phumzile Mhlatywa – face charges of murdering five police officers.

They have pleaded not guilty and are representing themselves.

Benjamin Mancoba, one of the seven Mancoba brothers, and leaders of the Angels Ministry church, were in the gallery along with the families of the five accused, who listened attentively.

Limane gave her version of what happened on February 20 2018.

She told the court she had just clocked in for duty and was sitting on a chair in the community service centre when the shooting started.

“A man wearing a balaclava entered. There were gunshots. Another followed and they all entered in a line,” she testified.

She jumped towards the counter and ran from the centre. “My intention was to run outside but I thought the building would be surrounded.”

She ran into Constable Sinazo Mtyeku at the door.

“I told her that we were under attack. We hid under the desk in the office.”

An attacker found them and forced them to open the safe where the firearms were kept.

He fired gunshots at random intervals.

Her pistol was taken.

The gunmen told her and others to leave and go to the bakkie at the entrance.

She and other officers were locked inside the bakkie.

“We were crying and praying for about 30 minutes. Ngqambiya [a patrol officer] opened for us. He asked us to take him to the hospital as he had been shot. He told us Sandlana [Constable Sibongiseni] had been shot and was dead.”

They went to the parking lot and tried to escape, but gunshots rang out again.

Limane said she slipped and fell into a trench and Vuyelwa Memani, a police data typist, fell on top of her. “I told her not to cry; we would lie there until the sun came up if needs be.”

After a long time she heard her name being called by colleagues.

“It was 3.05am. We were taken to hospital where we were treated for shock.”

The state prosecutor asked Limane if she knew how Constables Kuhle Mateta and Zuko Ntsheku had died that day.

“I don’t know,” she replied.

During cross-examination the five accused got up one after the other and said they had no questions for the state witness.

Phumzile Mhlatywa, 47, said he had no questions because he had not heard anything implicating him.

State witness Constable Sinazo Mtyeku testified how she tripped as she tried to jump over the body of the late Constable Nkosiphendule Pongco.

“One man kicked me in the buttocks,” she said.

When she and four other officials were loaded into the bakkie, she believed they would have been driven away and dumped somewhere.

When she was released, she and the others with her ran for cover. One colleague called for help.

“Constable Lusithi arrived and we went to his car. We heard gunshots.

“We ran towards the station and Lusithi opened a hole in the fence and we went through it. We hid in trees in a yard where Constable Nyikisa lived. ”

Another officer came and took an injured officer to hospital.

The accused all stood up and said they had no questions for the witness. The trial continues.

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