Bail denied to accused of killing Durban socialite, Mluleki Mbewana, Newsline

THE “businessman” who is accused of killing socialite and fashionista Mluleki Mbewana, a senior engineer at the King Cetshwayo District Municipality on the KwaZulu-natal North Coast, was denied bail at the Durban Magistrate’s Court.

In concluding that George Tsautse, 30, was a flight risk, magistrate Melanie de Jager had on Friday concurred with State prosecutor Nhlanhla Shange and investigating officer Captain Mjabulelwa Thabethe, who told her there was no proof of the accused’s business ownership and also that he had no immovable property registered under his name.

Tsautse is facing a murder charge, which carries a minimum life sentence. Mbewana, 32, was killed on September 23 during a quarrel over two women. Tsautse had entertained the women with expensive alcohol at the VIP table of Rich Durban nightclub before they dumped him for Mbewana.

He has confessed to the shooting outside the club, but denied the State’s version that it was premeditated. He told the court that he fired the fatal shot in self-defence after Mbewana, an ANC Youth League activist, had attempted to attack him even after he had fired three warning shots.

The matter was postponed to November 30.

For the trial, the State is armed with CCTV footage and nine witnesses, including five security guards who were working at the club.

Defence’s advocate Sydney Albert and attorney Gavin Moodley’s battle to secure bail was in vain as Shange pressed that the law prescribed that a schedule six suspect remain behind bars for the duration of the trial.

He said the accused was more likely to skip bail because he has already confessed to discharging of a firearm in public and of being in possession of a firearm without a licence.

Tsautse already has a warrant of arrest for skipping bail in Gauteng in relation to a negligent driving charge.

Among the reasons Albert gave the court on Friday that Tsautse qualified for bail was that he, through his lawyers, surrendered himself at the Sydenham police station on October 6, but the fact that soon after the shooting he drove to Johannesburg where he lay low for more than two weeks did not help his plight.

Shange also insisted that the accused posed a danger to witnesses as he had not surrendered the firearm.

He said that it would be difficult to locate Tsautse in case he got evicted from the properties he was renting in Kloof, Pinetown and Sandton in Johannesburg.

Due to health problems and hospitalisation, Tsautse’s fiancée and mother of his 2-year-old child failed to arrive in court to testify that they live together as a family.

De Jager concurred with Shange that the fact that Tsautse has three houses and had not disclosed the lease agreements and the landlords’ identities made him untrustworthy.

“There is no proof of his business and his family. There is no proof of where he could be found when he is released on bail,” said De Jager.

De Jager also accepted Thabethe’s evidence that when he and his colleagues went to Tsautse’s Old Main Road house, which he said he was sharing with the child and fiancee, to search for the firearm, they found clothes packed in boxes and stashed in the roof of the garage.

In an affidavit, Tsautse had told the court that he owned a fleet of cars, but police did not find any car at the house.

Sunday Tribune