Robbery by taxi: four deny Pelham hit

2009-10-12 00:00

THE high court murder trial of five men charged with killing 19-year-old Johnny Canos at the Pelham Bottle Store on June 22, 2006, will resume on March 29 next year.

During three days of evidence last week, all but one of the five accused on trial before acting Judge Nompumelelo Radebe and assessors, denied all knowledge of the robbery and murder.

One of the accused, Bheki Nzama (31), maintained that he drove the assailants in his taxi from Durban to Pietermaritzburg, but claimed he had no prior knowledge of the planned robbery.

He maintained he became aware of the robbery plan when he arrived at the bottle store with — at that time — seven passengers who alighted with firearms.

However, during cross examination he agreed he realised a robbery was to be perpetrated when he stopped earlier that day near the Southgate Spar where some of the passengers also got out. On their return it was said, “that thing did not succeed”.

He admitted he realised they intended to commit a robbery there.

Nzama testified he became aware there were firearms in his taxi en route to Pietermaritzburg, but that he was too “frightened” to ask questions.

On Friday, the fifth accused, Zenzele Mkhize (22), who described himself as a professional soccer player, testified that he knew nothing at all about the robbery or Canos’s murder.

He alleged Nzama and two state witnesses falsely implicated him saying he did not know the witnesses or Nzama before his arrest.

Zenzele maintained that Nzama implicated him simply because he was a co-accused in the matter.

Zenzele said he was training with team-mates at the gym on the day of the robbery. After his arrest he informed them of the charges, but did not tell them to make statements to the police,only that they might be required to give evidence in his defence at his trial.

The state alleges that another of the five accused, Vusimuzi Ngcobo, fired the fatal shot at Canos, who was working in his parents’ bottle store. He was shot in the head and died at the scene.

Ngcobo (27), Ntokozo Zondi (19) Nzama (31), Sifiso Thusi (25) and Mkhize (22) face charges of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances of cash and liquor.

Ngcobo and Mkhize are also charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

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