Zimbabwean robbers shoot South African partner dead

FOUR armed robbers, among them a South African, were involved in a spate of heists in Johannesburg before they escaped into Zimbabwe where they shot dead one of their own in a fight over sharing of the loot.

Melusi Ndlovu (47) of Gwatemba area in Filabusi and his brother Edmos Ndlovu, who is still on the run, allegedly shot and killed their accomplice Dumisani Mbatha, the South African, on March 24 in 2001 at Manando Farm in Figtree before dumping the body in a bushy area.

Melusi fled to South Africa after committing the crime and was arrested at his homestead in Filabusi in January this year after being on the run for 16 years.

Yesterday, he appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nokuthula Moyo facing a murder charge in connection with the death of Mbatha.

Prosecuting, Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu said on March 24 in 2001, the two Ndlovu brothers shot Mbatha with a pistol once on the head following a misunderstanding over proceeds from the heist and he died on the spot.

The two men hid the body in a bush at Manando Farm and fled from the area.

The court heard that on March 23 in 2001, the accused person went to his late brother Mr Robert Ndlovu’s house in Johannesburg in the company of Edmos. Melusi indicated that he wanted to travel back home to Zimbabwe with Mbatha and Edmos.

“They left Johannesburg at around 4PM and Melusi stole Robert’s passport, which he used to cross the border to Zimbabwe,” said the prosecutor.

On entering the country through Beitbridge Border Post, the three men proceeded to Pangani Training Centre in Filabusi and arrived at midnight.

On the following day, the trio drove to Bulawayo where they met their accomplice in the heist, Sikhumbuzo Moyo, at his house in Nketa 9 suburb.

“They demanded that Moyo should pay back the money which he owed them. The three men then requested Moyo to accompany them back to South Africa and he refused,” said Mr Ndlovu.

The court heard that Melusi and Edmos left Bulawayo and returned to Filabusi without Mbatha. On being quizzed by relatives about the whereabouts of Mbatha, they revealed that they shot and killed him.

“They dumped the body in a bushy area at Manando Farm in Figtree and covered it with tree branches before fleeing from the scene,” said Mr Ndlovu.

The body was discovered the following day by a farm worker who reported the matter to the police.

Police questioned villagers from the area who revealed that they had last seen Mbatha entering Melusi’s car and driving away with him on the day that he was last seen alive.

The cops hunted the two brothers and later learnt that they had fled to South Africa.

Melusi was arrested on January 16 this year after police received a tip-off that he had visited his home.

Moyo yesterday took to the witness stand and revealed that he was part of Melusi’s gang which committed heists in Johannesburg.

He told the court that Melusi and Edmos killed Mbatha after he lied to them that he took the loot from their heist and crossed over to Zimbabwe.

“This prompted Melusi, Mbatha and Edmos to cross into Zimbabwe because Mbatha had lied to them that I had fled to Zimbabwe with the loot from an armed robbery that we had jointly committed in Johannesburg,” said Moyo.

He said when Melusi, Edmos and Mbatha left his house, they did not tell him where they were going.

“I received a phone call from Edmos warning me against divulging information on their whereabouts. I was shocked when police came to my house a month later inquiring about the death of Mbatha. I told them that I last saw the trio when they visited my house,” he said.

Melusi, through his lawyer, Mr Jabulani Mhlanga of Masiye-Moyo and Associates, applied for a discharge, arguing that the State failed to establish a prima facie case against him.

“There is no independent evidence proffered by the State linking my client to the alleged offence. The State is relying on circumstantial evidence, which is not enough to suggest that the accused person killed the deceased,” said Mr Mhlanga.

Justice Moyo remanded the matter to today for ruling.