Advocate Martin Krog made the admission during the third day of cross-examining one of the state’s crucial witnesses, who has been in state protection since 2017 and cannot be named.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court also heard that some of the cash extorted from residents was used to buy muthi, used for “protection” of Mdweshu and his crew when they allegedly attacked rival gang members at the hostel.
“Accused one will concede that on the night you talk of he was shot in the hip, but not in the course of attacking Block R,” Krog told the witness, without offering further details.
He was referring to counts four to seven of the state’s indictment – the attempted murders of Bongani Mthembu, William Mthembu (the since killed leader of the Mthembu gang), Mandlakayise Dyanthi and Lucas Mbekelwa.
The state has charged Mdweshu, Khayelihle Mbuthuma, Vukani Mcobothi, Eugene Wonderboy Hlophe, Ncomekile Ntshangase (Mdweshu’s cousin) and Mbuyiselwa Mkhize with the attempted murders. Accused seven and eight are not facing this particular count.
The attack took place on the night of 19 August 2014 at the hostel’s notorious Block R. It is at this scene – described to Daily Maverick as a “war zone” by some residents – that the state contends Mdweshu, brandishing an illegally purchased R5, was injured by retaliatory fire from Mthembu and left a blood sample that was matched via DNA.
The witness testified to the attack last week, but Krog – who has been unrelenting in painting the man as an accomplice to crimes at Glebelands – carried on pushing on Wednesday, asking him why such vital information was omitted from the three-page statement he made to police in 2017.
Krog’s focus has been on the myriad incidents the man testified to over two days last week but never once mentioned in the same statement, which was admitted as an affidavit into court on Monday.
He also told the court the witness was once charged with the attempted murder of a Glebelands resident. The witness said the case was withdrawn.
The witness has been insistent that Mdweshu was the provocateur of the Block R attack and was shot during it, reiterating that he was told so by the since deceased Bonga Hlophe – who allegedly ran the Hlophe gang with Mdweshu – and had himself seen the former detective bleeding.
“I was told [Mdweshu] was injured and also saw it on my own as he was waiting for a vehicle,” said the witness.
“So he was standing there injured with an R5?” asked Krog.
“When police were approaching [Bonga] Hlophe took the R5.”
“So accused one had the R5 until the police came?”
“The police were picking up blood (sic), that’s when Hlophe rushed to take the firearm. Accused one was taken and hidden in [one of the hostel] blocks so police couldn’t see.”
“He wasn’t taken to hospital?”
“The police were still around, he was hidden and then when police left he was removed and put in a vehicle driven by Lwazi, a relative, who took him to hospital.”
Following this exchange, Krog asked the witness if he knew that Mdweshu had been shot at before the Block R incident, at the hostel, and had subsequently opened a charge of attempted murder against some Glebelands residents.
The witness said he had heard about the incident, but that “[Mdweshu] was also going around attacking people…,” before being cut off by Krog.
Krog also returned to the issue of “collections”, money extorted from residents by the witness and two others, by his own admission, but allegedly on the orders of Mdweshu.
The cash was allegedly extorted to buy weapons and ammunition and pay off the police.
The witness alleged he had only once taken part in collecting money – although his testimony on Tuesday could be interpreted otherwise – as Mdweshu didn’t trust him with the cash. He denied pocketing any of the takings.
“Did you also collect money for intelezi, muthi?” asked Krog.
“Yes, but I didn’t collect it.”
Judge Chili asked the witness to explain what intelezi was.
“It’s a herb, Zulu medicine that gets mixed and is used for helping you if you are being attacked. For protection,” replied the witness.
“For the protection of attackers from Block R?” asked Krog.
“Is it given to all of the people ‘on your side’?”
“The people who were allegedly being extorted, what did they think they were paying for?”
“To them, the money was taken so they could be protected; accused one told us to tell them they were being protected,” replied the witness.
“You are at pains to implicate accused one in everything bad that happened at the hostel,” bristled Krog.
“He is the teacher,” said the witness, referring to Mdweshu as the one who had instructed those implicated in the case how to use weapons and other tactics.
“You are also at pains to exculpate yourself,” said Krog.
“I have to [exculpate myself] as I am the complainant,” said the witness.
“Well, let’s leave it there,” said Krog.
The trial continues on Thursday, when Legal Aid South Africa attorney Xolani Sindane is expected to question the witness on behalf of his clients. DM
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