‘I am a gangster,’ court hears

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The murder and gangsterism trial of three young men accused of killing a man in Rocklands in August 2015 has started in the Free State High Court.
The State alleges that Tumelo Selebano, 20, Tladi Mafunda, 22, and Nkwebe Seatile, 21, murdered Lebogang Gaoboihi in Mojatau Street, Rocklands.
The three men are also facing a charge of taking part in criminal gang activities. They have pleaded not guilty to both charges.
The State alleges the men’s actions were part of an apparent conflict between the two rival gangs that had been terrorising the community around August last year. The court heard that the area where the murder took place is well known for gang activities, mainly between two groups, the Maroma gang and the BTK gang. The three accused are apparently part of the Maroma gang. They have denied this in court.
The legal counsel for Selebano and Mafunda told the court in a plea explanation they were at a cultural function at school on the day in question when they and others were attacked by an outside group of people.
Selebano submitted he was moving out of the school yard when he met the deceased, who picked up a brick and started to attack him. He took out a knife and stabbed the alleged attacker twice in self-defense before moving on, leaving the attacker still standing. Mafunda also submitted he met the deceased who threw a stone at him but missed. He then hit the man with an iron rod in self-defense before leaving the scene. The third accused has an alibi for where he was after the cultural event was interrupted.
The State has presented the testimony of several policemen who were involved in the case.
The first policeman on the scene testified that he found a man, still alive, but full of blood in the middle of the road. The man was asking for help. He was, however, seriously injured with some of his intestines hanging outside his body.
A senior Hawks investigator testified that Selebano, an apparent Grade 10 pupil, told him “I am a gangster” and that a few of them had stabbed the victim. The investigator accompanied Selebano to the crime scene where he pointed out matters of interest to the police. In cross-examination, Selebano denied that he had told the investigator anything. State witnesses have also denied allegations by Mafunda that he was assaulted by police, who allegedly pulled a plastic bag over his head at some stage. The court has heard that the victim was “just an old man” who saw a fight and wanted to separate the fighters on the day. The trial continues. – André Grobler 
andreg@centralmediagroup.co.za