THE state intends proceeding with the prosecution of three KwaNokuthula, Plettenberg Bay, men accused in the mob killing of a suspected child murderer and rapist, the Knysna Magistrate’s Court heard yesterday.
Mlamli Desi, 54, Mbonisi Tuli, 33, and Michael Besana, 31, were yesterday ordered to appear in the Knysna Regional Court on August 8, when arrangements would be made for their trial on murder charges.
Their bail of R1000 each was extended.
They were arrested after a mob of more than 2000 KwaNokuthula residents beat and hacked Derrick Shwati, 37, to death on November 28 last year, accusing him of raping and murdering Siphokazi Nini, 7.
Shwati, a convicted rapist, was beaten and hacked to death with pangas after he allegedly confessed to murdering the little girl and pointed out her naked body lying in a ditch behind a church.
When the three men applied for bail in December last year, Tuli told the court that Siphokazi’s neck was broken to the extent that her head was facing the wrong way. Both her legs were broken and she also had other injuries.
"I have never seen anything like that,” Tuli said, sobbing uncontrollably.
"The community could not be controlled when they saw her,” he added.
Tuli, vice-chairman of the SA National Civic Organisation (Sanco) branch in KwaNokuthula and a street committee organiser, said he would plead not guilty if the case was brought to trial, as did Desi and Besana.
After Shwati was beaten to death, police said they struggled to force their way through the mob to reach the suspect. He was already dead when officers reached him.
Tuli told the court the KwaNokuthula police were aware that community members were questioning Shawti about Siphokazi’s disappearance, but did not intervene, even when police members saw the mob marching him towards the church where the girl’s body was found.
He said residents had taken the law into their own hands because they did not trust the criminal justice system.
At the time of his death, Shwati had recently completed a term of imprisonment for raping and assaulting a young girl in the nearby Qolweni informal settlement.
A group of about 30 KwaNokuthula residents protested outside the court yesterday, displaying a large banner condemning Siphokazi’s murder.
Sanco Southern Cape chairman Thembani Lobese said the community was satisfied the case would go to trial.
"We want to see them acquitted after a fair trial so that the community can see that justice has been done.”
Lobese said there had been no serious crimes in KwaNokuthula since the mob justice meted out on Shwati.