ANC members who ‘killed’ MK Party members remanded in custody

One of the two ANC members accused of the murders of uMkhonto weSizwe Party members has a criminal record for common assault.

He was handed a R2 000 fine for the offence committed in 2010. The other accused has a conviction for possession of drugs and was also sentenced to a fine.

This information came out on Tuesday during the first court appearance of the three men arrested for the murders of two MK Party members.

They were shot and killed in Katlehong, east of Johannesburg, on Sunday night.

Sithembile Magasela, Jackson Mphahlele, and Mduduzi Ranyao, appeared at the Palm Ridge magistrate’s court on two counts of murder.

Gauteng police arrested the first suspect on Monday.

Members of the serious and violent crimes investigations and detectives from Ekurhuleni also arrested his accomplices, aged 33 and 40 years old, on the same day.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Brenda Muridili said that two members of the MK Party were shot and killed during a dispute with members affiliated with the ANC at Thwala Section in Katlehong North.

One of the victims died at the scene, and the other was declared dead upon arrival at the hospital. A firearm and a knife were recovered at the crime scene.

Muridili said the motive for the murders is being investigated.

Suspects plan to apply for bail

During court proceedings on Tuesday, the lawyer for the suspects, Peter Zwane, said Magasela has neither pending cases nor previous convictions.

Mphahlele has no pending cases but was convicted of common assault in 2010 and slapped with a R2 000 fine, Zwane told the court, adding that Ranyao has no pending cases but was convicted of possession of drugs (marijuana) sometime before 2010.

State prosecutor Bontle Mogorosi asked magistrate Wynaand Ferreira for the matter to be postponed to allow the police to obtain outstanding evidence.

According to Mogorosi, the police are waiting for a postmortem report, a photo album, and a witness statement.

Zwane said Magasela and Mphahlele handed themselves over to the police on Monday, while Ranyao was arrested at his place of residence.

He told the court that a fourth suspect handed himself over to the police on Tuesday afternoon and will be appearing in court alone on Thursday. 

The suspects intend to apply for bail. Mogorosi said the state intends to oppose the bail applications.

Ferreira postponed the matter to June 24 for a formal bail application, to allow the investigating officer time to prepare a statement opposing bail, as well as for the police to gather outstanding evidence.

The suspects remain in police custody. 

Ekurhuleni anti-crime unit

Ekurhuleni Thatazonke anti-crime unit spokesperson, Simphiwe Khumalo, said the murder had nothing to do with political party campaigns or the May 29 elections.

Khumalo said Magasela and Mphahlele are ANC members.

The deceased, according to Khumalo, were seen having a fight with a taxi driver, and members of the Ekurhuleni Thatazonke anti-crime unit intervened and managed to defuse the fight.

He said the two deceased were not happy that members of the anti-crime unit intervened. 

“One of the two individuals started to physically attack members of Thathazonke, while the second individual pulled out a firearm, at which stage a member of Thathazonke also pulled out a firearm,” Khumalo said.

“In an act of self-defence, he fired at the individual who had pulled out a firearm.”

He said a Thathazonke member had to also fire at the second individual, who was aggressively approaching and wanted to disarm him.

“The discharging of the firearm was done in self-defence and in defence of the public that was around the area at the time of the incident.

“We [the Thatazonke anti-crime unit] have high political tolerance. It is for this reason that we want to place it on record that the incident had nothing to do with politics.

“It is unfortunate that there are those who want to turn this incident into a political game and score cheap political mileage.”

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