Court staff who tested positive delayed bail application for men accused of killing KZN teen

Mlungisi Thabathe, 28, Andile Nhleko, 27, Mncedisi Mzobe, 27, Siyanda Msweli, 26, Lindani Ndlovu, 22, and Malusi Mthembu, 27, appeared in the Verulam magistrate's court in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Andile 'Bobo' Mbhuthu. The seventh accused is a minor who appeared separately.
Mlungisi Thabathe, 28, Andile Nhleko, 27, Mncedisi Mzobe, 27, Siyanda Msweli, 26, Lindani Ndlovu, 22, and Malusi Mthembu, 27, appeared in the Verulam magistrate's court in connection with the kidnapping and murder of Andile 'Bobo' Mbhuthu. The seventh accused is a minor who appeared separately.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

The maternal family of slain Tongaat teenager Andile "Bobo" Mbuthu said they have nothing to say to Mlungisi Thabathe, who is one of the six people accused of killing Mbuthu.

Mbuthu's uncle, Ntobeko Ngidi, briefly spoke to media at the Verulam magistrate's court on Tuesday, where the defence wrapped up its closing arguments for the bail application.

Ngidi said Thabathe was related to Mbuthu's father's family, and they wanted nothing to do with him.

"The deceased was the only one related to him, not the family as a whole. There is nothing we can speak about, nothing," said Ngidi.

It emerged during the lengthy bail application that Mbuthu and Thabathe were first cousins as their fathers are brothers.

Thabathe, together with Andile Nhleko, 27, Mncedisi Mzobe, 27, Siyanda Msweli, 26, Lindani Ndlovu, 22 and Malusi Mthembu, 27, are charged with the murder and kidnapping of Mbuthu, who disappeared after he was allegedly assaulted for stealing alcohol from a  tavern in Hambanathi in Tongaat, north of Durban.

During his closing arguments, the attorney for the accused, Chris Gounden, said the state had not proved that the accused men had acted in common cause, and did not give any specific reason why bail was opposed.

"The state has not given a specific reason why bail was opposed except to say it was opposed," said Gounden.

Gounden said Thabathe had acted in good faith when he told the court he had slapped Mbuthu a few times for stealing alcohol.

He called into question the authenticity of a petition said to be signed by Hambanathi residents, saying the details were incomplete as they didn't have proper addresses or surnames.

The case has faced several delays due to the pandemic, initially because the accused could not be transported to court from Westville prison due to Covid-19 restrictions, and later because the magistrate, an orderly and senior state prosecutor had all tested positive for Covid-19.

"We do feel the bail application has been prolonged, but we understand given the circumstances and based on the fact that there is this issue of Covid-19. However, as a family, we are happy it might be concluded over the course of the week," said Ngidi.

The seventh accused, who is a minor, appeared separately and has abandoned his bail application.

Gounden recommended R500 bail for each of the six accused.

The matter is set to continue in the Verulam magistrate's court on Wednesday.


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