‘Sunnyside club killer’ denied bail

The man (30) accused of gunning down a woman (26) outside a nightclub in Sunnyside last month was denied bail on Thursday. Photo: Stock

The alleged Sunnyside nightclub killer has been denied bail.

James Malesela Ngoasheng (30) had appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court for the fourth time on Thursday, to apply for bail.

He stands accused of gunning down a woman, Sophie Ledwaba (26), outside a nightclub in the suburb last month.

Defence lawyer advocate Milandzi started his cross-examination of investigating officer Mokonyane Jeremiah Mpiti on the outcomes of his investigation.

He read into the record an affidavit deposed to Ngoasheng’s while the prosecution used Mpiti as its reliable source.

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Mpiti’s story remained consistent in the face of cross-examination by both the prosecution and the defence.

Mpiti told the court that three women, including the deceased, left the club and wanted to use an Uber taxi but could not because there were problems the service and Maxi taxis.

The instead hitched a lift.

“An argument ensued about where the women should be dropped off, after they got a lift from two men, including the accused. There was a stage where they physically fought and needed to be separated. Because of his anger the accused then took out his firearm and shot one of the women and ran away,” said Mpiti.

Mpiti also said later, about 12:00, the accused, accompanied by a relative, handed himself over to the police at the Sunnyside police station.

Milandzi argued that Ngoasheng was not a flight risk, would not evade the law or interfere with witnesses and move back to Limpopo to live with his parents if granted bail.

ALSO READ: Alleged Sunnyside woman killer to appear in court for third time

Mpiti had said on Tuesday Ngoasheng had a history of violence and his landlord had handed him a termination of his lease notice prior to the murder, hence Ngoasheng’s belongings were moved out of his flat in Sunnyside at the end of August.

Mpiti also said he awaited a ballistics report to verify if the firearm, its serial number was filed off, had been used to commit any other crime, and that if the test was positive, that could strengthen the state’s case

Prosecutor Lufuno Manwewa asked Mpiti if he thought Ngoasheng deserved bail to which he Mpiti said he did not think so because Ngoasheng could interfere with witnesses as he had access to their phone numbers.

He said the witnesses had been in hiding in Swaziland since the murder and only returned to Pretoria this week.

He said Ngoasheng’s relocation to Limpopo was no guarantee he would come to court… “he might abscond”.

Manewa argued Ngoasheng’s parents’ home could not be viewed as his valid address as he did not live in Limpopo.

ALSO READ: Night club killing: bail hearing continues today

But Milandzi argued if Ngoasheng returned to Limpopo, there was no way he would interfere with witnesses as he didn’t have their phone numbers.

Milandzi said had his client been willing to abscond, he would not have willingly handed himself over to the police.

Magistrate David Shikwambana, handing down his judgment, began by noting that since he denied an application by media houses to be allowed to take photos and video footage, pictures of Ngoasheng had gone viral online, and therefore in the public domain, he could reconsider the media’s re-application for photos.

Mpiti had earlier argued publication of Ngoasheng’s photograph could endanger his life arguing he could struggle to cope with the resultant public scrutiny and commit suicide.

Shikwambana said he realised the media was pushed by public interest but his interest as presiding officer was to act in the interest of justice.

He sympathised with the families of the accused and the deceased and added that his judgment was based on facts of the case than sheer media interest.

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Shikwambana’s noted the following:

– Ngoasheng faces three charges – murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and live ammunition – each with a prescribed minimum sentence of either 10 or 15 years in jail.

– Mpiti had given oral evidence while the defence had read an affidavit

– A firearm, with a serial number filed off, was used

– “It’s not disputed the deceased and the accused were at [within a] close range.”

– When applying for bail, the accused person must demonstrate his innocence yet Ngoasheng had not denied he shot the deceased in the right cheek, which was an admission of guilt

– “In the end, he wants to prove his innocence, where is the innocence?”

– “The presumption of innocence falls off because the accused never denied shooting the deceased. If you agree to committing a crime, where then is the presumption of innocence.”

ALSO READ: UPDATE: Police still searching for Silverton man’s killers

– “On the gruesomeness of this offence. I am satisfied that the interest of justice don’t permit that I can release you on bail.”

The case was postponed to 20 October, and Ngoasheng would remain in police custody until then.

After the judgment, both families left the courtroom to their own spots to divulge the outcome.

The deceased’s father, Patrick Kgoale, told Rekord: “As a family, there is not much to say. We have confidence in the justice system. We know that by them working together with the police, justice will be served.

Ngoasheng’s family said they would consider appealing the judgment.

A family representative said: “We are considering the judgment and will considering an appeal.”

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Tshegofatso Ngobeni
Journalist

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