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BISHOP’S IN-LAWS CHARGED FOR ASSAULT

By Sifiso Nhlabatsi | 2019-05-02

Following the attack of the Swazi Observer journalist and driver by All Nations leader Bishop Bheki Lukhele’s in-laws, five of the bishop’s in-laws have been arrested and formally charged for beating and threatening to kill the newspaper’s staffers.

Magida Fakudze, Thandiswa Mamba, Zethu Shongwe, Phiwa Shongwe, Sonto Shongwe, Celucolo Shongwe, Ciniso Shongwe, Phumlani Nkambule and Bhekuyise Sikhondze, all from Mdumezulu area, made their first court appearance in one of the courts in Big Bend on Tuesday. The attack on the two took place last Thursday, while they were in the line of duty.

The Sunday Observer was pursuing the story of a pupil, Senele Shongwe, who is alleged to be in a relationship with the polygamous bishop. The pupil, according to reports, is said to be in the process of being married by the bishop after Mayibongwe Mthimkhulu.

The pupil is reported to have confirmed to a weekend publication that she was in love with the bishop. She is seen in pictures that have been shared on social media platforms with Lukhele, in one such picture doing a pout.

The allegations our sister paper was investigating were to the effect that the man of the cloth had sexual relations with the Form Two pupil, who ultimately dropped out allegedly after falling pregnant.

The investigations by the journalist took him to the homestead of the Shongwe family, where he introduced himself and what he was intending to publish.

However, the woman believed to be the pupil’s mother made a call to one of her brothers, and from that moment, the investigation took a nasty turn, as the family members attacked the driver and journalist. What happened thereafter resemble  a scene from action packed movies, as the in-laws and other members of the community bayed for the blood of the two, who had to run for their dear lives.

Their car they were using was extensively damaged, as they pelted it with all sorts of missiles.

Following the attack, five of the bishop’s in-laws were arrested and charged with three counts. The counts included malicious injury to property.

According to the charge sheet, it is said that on April 25,  2019 near Mdumezulu area in the Lubombo region, the accused persons acted jointly in furtherance of a common purpose wrongfully and intentionally damaged a rear window and a bonnet of a Kia sedan motor vehicle, which was the property of the Swazi Observer.

The damage to the vehicle was estimated to amount E18 000. On the second count the five were charged with assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm it is alleged that the accused persons assaulted the newspaper’s driver, by beating him with open hands and fists all over the body with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

On the third count, the accused persons were charged with assault common, in that they assaulted a Swazi Observer journalist by threatening to beat and kill him.

During their court appearance on Tuesday, there were fears that there was a plot to attack the journalist, while he was trying to make his court appearance as the complainant. After fears that there were planned attacks on the journalist, police were vigilant as they ensured that the media team made their court appearance without any hindrances.

Police officers were deployed to ensure safety.

As early as 8am, it is said vehicles belonging to the accused persons and their relatives were parked within the court premises. It is said as soon as there was word that the journalist was on his way to court three of the cars left the premises and headed towards the direction where the journalists were coming from.

Police Information and Communications Officer Superintendent Phindile Vilakati confirmed that police officers were extra vigilant after there were fears that there might be an attack on the journalists.

The accused were remanded until next week Tuesday ,where they are expected to appear in court again.

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