Source: Zim pair’s trial date set in SA | The Herald October 28, 2016
Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Judgment in the case of two Zimbabwean cross-border transporters and a woman believed to be part of a syndicate terrorising fellow countrymen in South Africa has been set for November 3 at the South Gauteng High Court. Jaheni “Satan” Luphahla (28) of Old Lobengula in Bulawayo and Phathumuzi “KK” Sibanda (27) of Emakhandeni in Bulawayo and Madida Petition Sicelo (30) alias Sister (South African) proceeded to trial after they denied the charges.
Their trial opened two weeks ago.
Their alleged ring leader Charles Cecil Brewer, alias Boss of Nketa 7 in Bulawayo has already been jailed for an effective 20 years after pleading guilty to 62 charges of crimes ranging from murder, rape, robbery, extortion and assault among others.
Brewer, who is married to Sicelo, had initially been slapped within 350 years imprisonment but was left with 20 years to serve following a plea bargain with the State.
The State has opted to make him a key state witness against members of the syndicate, which has become a perennial headache for South African authorities.
Brewer is also the key witnesses against his wife and two accomplices; Luphala and Sibanda. The gang is accused of kidnapping more than 100 Zimbabweans and killing several others including two Harare women.
They are alleged to have unleashed their reign of terror between May 30 and July 11 last year. Brewer and associates have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest in July last year and were denied bail at the Thembisa Magistrate Court in Johannesburg before the matter was transferred to the higher court.
The matter has been dragging on as the accused have been struggling to get a lawyer soon after dumping the State’s free legal practitioners. The State has subpoenaed more than 100 witnesses to testify against the four suspected of being part of a syndicate targeting mostly women travelling between Musina and Johannesburg in Gauteng Province.
Sources close to the case said the accused persons were arrested during a police sting operation in Musina on July 25 while preying on unsuspecting victims who were travelling to Johannesburg.
They said the accused persons have been positively identified by most of the victims. Authorities said the syndicate operates from Total and Engen filling stations and a house in Musina, where they pounce on Zimbabwean hitch-hikers travelling to Gauteng Province.
Charges are that the gang used South African registered private vehicles and touts to lure the unsuspecting victims into their cars, which they then kidnapped and detained at various houses upon reaching Johannesburg.
They demanded money from the victims’ relatives to secure their release. The money, which ranges from R3000 and above would be paid through various money agencies.