Defendant in Marshalltown fire drops bail application

Henry

The man accused of 76 murders after last year’s fire in Marshalltown in Johannesburg abandoned his bail application on Thursday.

The case against 30-year-old Sithembiso Mdlalose was adjourned until March 6 while the investigation continues. He is also charged with arson and 86 counts of attempted murder.

The state has asked for more time to complete its investigation as it is still waiting for certain evidence, including 11 autopsy reports.

Phindi Mjonondwane, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority, said the state is also waiting to hear from the defense if a proposal will be made to negotiate a sentence.

“We will be led by the defense if they want to negotiate with the state,” she said. “If we reject their proposal, we will move to the trial stage.”

Mdlalose was arrested last month after he admitted to the Khampepe commission of inquiry into the fire that he started it.

The devastating fire in the Usindiso building on the corner of Albert and Delver Street claimed the lives of 76 people in the early morning hours of 31 August.

The commission of inquiry into the fire was appointed by Panyaza Lesufi, the Gauteng premier, and began its activities in October.

The investigation is conducted in two phases. The circumstances surrounding the devastating fire were investigated during the first phase. The appearance of so-called hijacked buildings (by crime syndicates) in the Johannesburg city center also received attention in this phase of the investigation.

The second phase of the investigation, which began this month, includes the necessary observations and findings about who should accept liability or responsibility for the tragedy.

Sisi Khampepe, retired judge of the Constitutional Court, was named chairman of the commission. Adv. Thulani Makhubela and Vuyelwa Mathilda Mabena will assist Khampepe in the independent investigation.