Political and community activists swamped the KaBokweni magistrate’s court on Monday to catch a glimpse of the suspects accused of executing the corruption-busting speaker of Mpumalanga’s capital city, Jimmy Mohlala.
Two of the accused are policemen, while a third accused is the mother of the alleged trigger-man.
Mohlala was shot dead on January 4 last year after three gunmen invaded his KaNyamazane home. His 19-year-old son, Tshepiso, was shot and injured.
On Monday, bail was set at R10 000 each for the four suspects, who were arrested on Saturday.
The suspects – Jenny Mabika (56) who is a cleaner at Rob Ferreira hospital, unemployed Moses Mahungela (33), and two police constables, Dumisani Mhlanga of the Nelspruit flying squad and Musa Mkhabela of the KaNyamazane police – were not asked to plead to charges of murder and attempted murder.
Mohlala’s widow, Bonny, was at the court on Monday to face the four accused.
Looking exhausted, Mrs Mohlala told African Eye News Service (AENS) that she was disappointed that the suspects include two policemen.
“I am still shocked that the people who are supposed to protect us, are actually the ones who are accused of murdering my husband. Now it explains why it took the police over 20 months to make arrests, because their own are involved,” said Mohlala.
She said the arrests, while welcome, were traumatic as the family was reliving the events of Mohlala’s murder.
“We just want closure on this matter,” she said.
Mpumalanga police spokesman Captain Leonard Hlathi said the suspects were arrested after police received a tip-off.
He said the murder charge related to Mohlala’s death, while the attempted murder charge related to the shooting and injuring of his teenaged son, Tshepiso.
Hlathi said the hospital cleaner is the mother of a fifth suspect who is believed to have pulled the trigger and is still at large.
“She is also implicated in this case because we have evidence that she has been hiding (her son) from the police,” Hlathi said.
He said the charges against her may therefore be reduced to charges of conspiracy or defeating the ends of justice.
The four accused were able to pay bail and are expected to appear in court again on November 5.
Mohlala’s nephew, Pat Mohlala, was disappointed at the amount set for bail.
“Personally, I am not happy about the bail,” he said. “R10 000 is peanuts in a high profile case like this.”
Lawyer for the suspects, Slungu Thobela of Thobela Attorneys, said the State does not have a case against his clients.
“The police do not have anything that link my clients to this case, so I don’t believe they have a case against them,” said Thobela.
Mohlala was killed a week before he was scheduled to testify about former municipal manager Jacob Dladla’s refusal to implement 361 council resolutions, as well as Dladla’s role in the poor management of the 2010 Mbombela stadium project.
Mohlala was also planning to recommend that fraud charges be laid against Lefika Emerging Equity, the 2010 stadium project managers.
A letter dated December 22, 2008, was sent by Lefika on a Mbombela municipality letterhead to First National Bank as surety for an overdraft facility.
The letter bears the name of acting municipal manager, Sigananda Siboza. Mohlala and Siboza both claimed the letter was fraudulent.