Mayor Richard Mbatha and his two co-accused were in the Estcourt Regional Court this morning on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder only to be left frustrated when their case was postponed to October 2.
He and Estcourt Councillor, Mthembeni Majola and the alleged hitman, Xolani ‘Shorty’ Makhathini, were upset that they still do not have access to the State’s docket against them. The three are accused of plotting to murder Endumeni Council Speaker, Bongiwe Mbatha-Makhathini.
Regional Court State Prosecutor Nel, from Bergville, is sick and was not present.
However, Mayor Mbatha said afterwards that the State had well over a month to present the docket to the defence. Magistrate Goosen said to alleviate the court flow, the case should be heard in Ezakheni Court as if the case continues in Estcourt it will be only heard from trial in 2019.
She also commented that Mr Makhathini, who is confined to a wheelchair, would ‘find Ezakheni more accommodating as it is more wheelchair friendly than the Estcourt Court where he had to sit in the public area in the passage to listen to proceedings’.
The Court also of the opinion that as one of the accused is local (from Estcourt) justice would be better served if ‘the case is heard in Ezakheni without a local prosecutor’.
Advocate Augustine, who was representing all three accused as Mayor Mbatha’s advocate could not be present today, said the accused should be given a speedy trial as two are Councillors and they would be heavily involved in the national elections in 2019.
Mayor Mbatha and his co-accused said afterwards that ”the docket is very heavy because people (no specifics were given) were paid to make statements (against them)’. He also added that the State had weeks to pass on (to the defence) the docket but had so far failed to do so.
Councillor Makhathini said the Estcourt Court not being wheelchair friendly ”is not an issue” for him. All three want the case to be heard in Estcourt and that it should be dealt with speedily. They also want the State to prove why ”a local prosecutor should not hear the case”.