A setback has hit the alleged hitmen accused of being hired by a businessman to assassinate his rival, as a magistrate has dismissed their application opposing placement on remand.

The gang, consisting of Moses Monde from Johannesburg, Malvin Manzinde, Malvin Tatenda Nyamuranga, Norbert Muponda, and Joshua Mapuranga, based in Cape Town, initially faced charges of conspiracy to commit murder in court last week.

They had filed an application opposing their remand, arguing that the state lacked reasonable suspicion of their involvement in the offense.

However, Presiding Magistrate Stanford Mambanje ruled that the state had indeed established reasonable suspicion of a murder plot against the complainant, even though it hadn’t been carried out.

“This ruling follows an application challenging placement on remand filed by the five accused persons, who argued lack of evidence indicating their travel from South Africa to target the complainant,” Magistrate Mambanje stated.

He continued, “While it’s not proof beyond reasonable doubt at this stage, there’s reasonable suspicion. The state doesn’t need to prove the charges at this stage.”

The gang is set to return to court on Tuesday to file their bail application.

The alleged mastermind, Obrian Obert Mapurisa, who is currently on the run, purportedly entered an agreement to purchase liquefied petroleum gas tankers in Turkey with Oliver Tendai Chipindu. Due to Mapurisa’s failure to deliver the tankers, Chipindu handed over US$800,000 in cash for the purchase of seven tankers. Subsequently, Mapurisa allegedly hired the five assassins to carry out Chipindu’s assassination.