University of Pretoria postgrad student, Thapelo Menwe, was killed near his residence in Hatfield on Saturday, September 10.

 Thapelo Menwe (23) was killed in Hatfield near his home. Photo: Sinesipho Schrieber

One of the men charged with murdering and robbing a University of Pretoria (UP) student near his residence in Hatfield abandoned his formal bail application on Monday.

The 23-year-old student, Thapelo Menwe, was shot in the abdomen and killed when he was robbed of his cellphone and other personal belongings. This brutal attack happened on Grosvenor Street in Hatfield near his home in TuksDorp student residence before 02:00 on Saturday, September 10.

The accused, Bongani Sibiya and William Seema Makgoba (aged 38 and 33), appeared in the Pretoria magistrate’s court on Monday charged with murder, robbery and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Sibiya instructed his Legal Aid lawyer that he did not want bail. It is believed that Sibiya also filed a confession relating to the charges against him to the police. The contents of the confession have not yet been served in court. The police could not yet confirm that they received a signed confession by the time of publication.

The second accused in the matter, Makgoba, filed for a formal bail application, in which he requested the media to film the court processes. This was a shock to the state as it had submitted to the magistrate that the media be barred from taking photographs and videos of the accused, reasoning that the identity parade for the investigation was still ongoing.

Makgoba’s formal bail application will be heard on September 29.

Meanwhile, the court gallery was full of emotional friends of Menwe, students from the university and activists fighting against crime.

A friend of Menwe, Sunella Madikwe, who was tearful, said seeing the accused in the murder case was difficult.

“I am happy that accused number one abandoned bail. I believe this shows that he knows there is no hope for him and he knows what he did.

“When the accused came into the court, we saw no remorse and felt like the person we suspect shot Thapelo is someone who knew what he was doing.

“It was difficult to see them up close,” Madikwe said.

She said travelling to Zeerust in the North West for Menwe’s burial last Saturday was heartbreaking.

“We never thought that we would go to Zeerust [Menwe’s birth home] to bury a friend. We were hoping we would go there for a graduation celebration or a wedding,” Madikwe said.

“It has been a tough time for us as Thapelo’s friends but I hope we will get through this.”

She said she hoped more people would support the court processes.

Thapelo Menwe’s friends outside Pretoria magistrate court.

Activist Noxolo Mfocwa from, an organisation that conducts online petitions, filed a petition signed by more than 27 000 people to the NPA senior prosecutor in court.

“There was a horrible video of Thapelo being gunned down that was trending and there was a social media campaign #JusticeFor Thapelo. We decided that this was a cause we wanted to support.

“His friends started the petition and by this morning it had over 27 000 signatures of South Africans saying they did not want bail for the accused.”

Mfocwa said the organisation regarded the abandonment of bail as a partial victory for justice to prevail in Menwe’s case.

The case will be back in court on September 29.

Thapelo Menwe

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