All five men charged with the murders of a prominent Tongaat couple abandoned their bail applications at the 11th hour in the Verulam Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
The men – Sibusiso Mthimkhulu, Senzo Nduli, Lucky Njoko, Vusi Ngxumeshe and Blessing Nduli – are charged with the murders of businessman and bus company owner Balaram Reddy and his wife, Maliga, and the attempted murder of their son Nivashen.
They also face charges of armed robbery and being in possession of unlicensed firearms.
The family were attacked at home in the early hours of December 22 last year. Reddy and his wife were shot in the head. Nivashen survived being shot in the lower back and being stabbed several times.
Daughter Prishini, who is six months pregnant, and her husband, Rishal Rammanan, who were also in the house at the time, were threatened by the attackers but were not harmed.
While police believed the motive for the incident was robbery – as cash, jewellery and a cellphone were taken – the surviving family members believe the attack was related to their business interests.
Reddy owned a convenience store in Frasers and a bus company, and some relatives suspected that disputes over routes could have led to his death.
On Tuesday, the men appeared upbeat and smiled at their relatives seated in the gallery when their case was called in the morning.
The matter was adjourned for a few hours for the men to prepare affidavits to apply for bail.
Angry that the men had smiled while in the dock, relatives of the Reddy family shouted insults at them and said they should not be happy.
There was also tension in the packed courtroom as relatives of the men jostled with relatives of the Reddy family for seats.
After the lunch adjournment, the men, who then appeared sombre in the dock, told the court they wanted to abandon their bail applications.
Speaking outside court, Phindile Cele, who is related to some of the men, said she believed they feared that their lives would be in danger if they were released.
Nivashen said he was pleased the men had abandoned their bail applications.
“But we want this case finalised soon,” he added.
The case was adjourned to March 23 for further investigation and the men were remanded. – The Mercury