Top legal team to defend ‘truck looters’

Top Eastern Cape legal eagle Dali Mpofu is set to represent eight residents who were allegedly part of a crowd that looted food from an overturned truck near Mbizana last month.

Mpofu was approached by residents to represent the accused, who face a litany of criminal charges including theft, assault, intimidation and damage to property.

The Economic Freedom Fighters national chairman will be joined by Mpumalanga human rights attorney Richard Spoor.

Neither Mpofu nor Spoor could be reached for comment, but advocate Nicky Terblanche, who attended yesterday’s appearance at the Mbizana Magistrate’s Court, confirmed that both were representing the victims with a view to having the charges against them thrown out.

She said she was taking instruction from Spoor. “We are fighting for justice and their fundamental human rights not to be infringed upon. We will not allow that.”

Two of the looters, Mhlophe Cele, 34, and Silindile Ndzimakhwe, 18, died on the scene after police allegedly opened fire on a crowd of more than 100 people on December 2.

The shooting comes after residents allegedly helped themselves to 25kg bags of rice and 10kg bags of sugar from the truck, which had crashed after experiencing mechanical failure on a steep slope between Port Edward and Mbizana.

Two of the victims were transferred to the Nelson Mandela Central Hospital and underwent emergency operations after suffering bullet wounds to their chests and abdomens.

Scores of others were admitted at various hospitals and treated for minor to serious injuries.

Eight people were arrested after the incident, which sent shock waves through the community.

The Police, Prisons and Civil Rights Union said there was no justification for shooting at unarmed people without provocation.

The United Democratic Movement described it as another “Marikana in the making”.

Mpofu is the legal representative of mineworkers who were injured during the Marikana massacre.

Community activist Nonhle Mbutuma said they had turned to Mpofu as they could not afford to pay the legal costs. National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Luxolo Tyali said the case was postponed until today for further investigation.

-Loyiso Mpalantshane

Leave a Reply