By Thupeyo Muleya
The trial of three Zimbabwean men commonly known as Omalayitsha and a South African woman facing 62 counts of murder, rape, robbery, extortion and assault among other violent crimes committed against Zimbabweans in the neighbouring country opened at the South Gauteng High Court yesterday.
The four cross-border transporters are accused of kidnapping more than 100 Zimbabweans and killing several others including two Harare women.
Charles Cecil Brewer (36), alias Boss of Nketa 7 suburb in Bulawayo, his South African wife, Madida Petition Sicelo (30) alias Sister, Jaheni ‘Satan’ Luphahla (28) of Old Lobengula suburb in Bulawayo and Phathumuzi ‘KK’ Sibanda (27) of Emakhandeni suburb in Bulawayo allegedly committed the crimes between May 30 and July 11 last year.
They have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest in July last year. They were denied bail at Tembisa magistrate court in Johannesburg before the matter was transferred to the higher court.
The matter has been dragging as the accused persons have been struggling to secure a lawyer after dumping the State’s free legal practitioners.
One witness testified and the trial is expected to continue today.
The four are accused of killing Olga Gwena (25) of Chitungwiza and Esther Mwenda of Harare among others.
It is understood that the syndicate operated from Total and Engen filling stations and from a house in Musina.
They allegedly pounced on Zimbabwean hitch-hikers travelling to Gauteng province.
Brewer, who is allegedly the mastermind of the orgy of crimes, has allegedly approached the prosecution team for a plea bargain.
The arrangement will see him turning into a key State witness to nab other members of his syndicate who have become elusive following his arrest last year.
The State alleges that Brewer and his associates used South African registered private vehicles and touts to lure the unsuspecting Zimbabweans.
Upon getting to Johannesburg they allegedly turned violent and stole various valuables including money from the complainants.
It is reported that in most of the incidents they demanded money from the victims’ relatives to secure their release. The money, which ranged from R 3000 was paid through various money transfer agencies. The Chronicle