Kezi “vigilante” group arrested for attempted murder

Five men from St Anna village, in Kezi, have been arraigned before the courts on attempted murder charges after they allegedly hung a man on a tree and beat him to a pulp.

A court heard that the men barged into the complainant’s home while he was asleep, armed with axe handles, knobkerries and logs.

Kempton Dube (52), Mehluli Mpala (23), Philani Ngwenya (21), Gava Mpala (63), and Lovemore Sibanda (26), appeared before Kezi Magistrate Kachepa on Thursday.

They were remanded in custody until February 14.

According to the state outline, the five men broke into a homestead in Marinoha village, Maphisa where they harassed four victims and severely assaulted them.

“On February 4, 2023, at around 2 AM, the complainants Mncedisi Ncube (19), Nkosiyapha Dube (24), Chrispen Nyathi (27) and a minor aged 14 were sleeping in the bedroom at a homestead in Marinoha village, Maphisa,” the court said.

“The five accused persons were armed with an axe handle, knobkerries and logs. They also took their three dogs with them. Upon arrival, they violently broke the door of the main bedroom and started assaulting the complainants who were asleep. The accused persons set their dogs to bite the complainants and they sustained several injuries.”

The accused persons then force-marched the complainants from Marinoha village to St Anna approximately fifteen kilometres away.

“Upon arrival at St Anna, the accused person tied Mcedisi Ncube on the neck with a rope and hung him on the tree branch. They then assaulted the complainant with knobkerries and logs all over the body whilst hanging on the tree branch until he became unconscious. The accused persons cut the rope and he fell down on the ground, unconscious,” the papers stated. 

“The matter was reported to the police and accused persons were arrested. All the complainants were referred to Maphisa District Hospital for medical examination and were admitted to Maphisa District hospital.”

According to the court papers, bail for the accused persons was opposed because of the gravity of the offence and because they are likely to interfere with State witnesses among other reasons.

“The five accused persons are a flight risk. Soon after committing the offence, they evaded the police. When the police were effecting the arrest they resisted and attempted to flee. They are also neighbours with the complainants therefore they are most likely to interfere with or intimidate the witnesses,” the papers read.

“The gravity of the offence committed by the five, if convicted, attracts a lengthy term of imprisonment. This is a factor which will motivate abscondment if granted bail. The villagers, including the complainants’ relatives, are baying for the five accused persons’ blood because of this case. Keeping them in custody is the best way to keep them safe from the angry community.”

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