Saturday, May 22, 2010

Suspect in the Killing of White Far-right Leader is From Zimbabwe

Terre’blanche murder suspect Zimbabwean


One of Eugene Terre’Blanche’s alleged killers is a Zimbabwean, a South African court heard on Wednesday.

Chris Mahlangu (27) was born in Chiredzi, under a different name, his uncle said at his bail hearing before a Ventersdorp magistrate.

Mahlangu is charged with murder and robbery in aggravating circumstances over the April 3 slaying of the white supremacist.

His co-accused is a 15-year-old boy.

Isiah Ngobeni, Mahlangu’s uncle, said: "To survive, their father changed their surname when they arrived in South Africa."

He said Mahlangu’s original surname was Rhangani and his parents were still in Zimbabwe.

"I don’t know why he used Mahlangu. Maybe it is the surname his father used when he was here," Ngobeni said.

He said he first saw Mahlangu in Chiredzi, when he was about six years old, at the crèche he went to in 1989.

He said after he moved to South Africa, he saw him in 1997 in Mabopane.

He lived with Mahlangu for three-and-half years.

Mahlangu moved out when he got married.

Ngobeni said Mahlangu moved to Itsoseng with his wife, but returned after their house burnt down.

Speaking through an interpreter, Ngobeni gave details of Mahlangu’s extended family to the court as it tried to decide whether he would be a flight risk if granted bail.

Ngobeni said he had not believed the police when they told him Mahlangu was accused of killing Terre’Blanche, until Mahlangu told him so himself.

"He called me and I recognised his voice. We talked and even argued on the phone," Ngobeni said.

He said if granted bail, he would take him in if he needed a place to stay.

He also said Mahlangu had applied for a South African ID several times without success.

"He has very strong ties to South Africa. He has more than 20 relatives here," Ngobeni said.

The court dismissed an application to amend a charge against Mahlangu.

Mahlangu’s lawyer, Puna Moroko, argued that the alleged offence was unplanned and not premeditated.

"Our version is that the accused acted in self-defence and the two cannot be married — self-defence and premeditated murder. A ruling on this point is crucial. Any other route, in my view, would not be the correct one," Moroko said.

At the last hearing, the court heard that Terre’Blanche was hit and stabbed 28 times.

Earlier, Moroko said investigating officer Tsietsi Mano would "turn brown" when cross-questioned on his testimony that Terre’Blanche was asleep when he was attacked with a panga and an iron rod, and "did not see it coming".

Magistrate Magaola Foso dismissed Moroko’s application for the charge, ruling that it could be addressed during argument.

Foso postponed the bail hearing to June 10.

Mahlangu sat quietly in the dock, wearing the same Nike tracksuit that he had worn at previous appearances. — Sapa.

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