Man pleads guilty to culpable homicide

By Drum Digital
19 August 2013

A tavern patron who shot another patron dead in a brawl in Mpumalanga was found guilty of culpable homicide in the Nelspruit Regional Court on Monday.

A Sapa correspondent reported that Lawrence Senzani Phoku, from Sukani Trust near Hazyview, pleaded guilty to culpable homicide despite being charged for murder.

Phoku said he did not know how the gun got into his hands on October 15, 2011.

He testified that three men confronted him while he was drinking at the tavern.

"One of my attackers carried a firearm in his hand. While the other men were attacking me, I fell to the ground and the man holding the firearm lost his grip and the firearm also fell down next to me," he said.

"As the men were busy kicking me, I don't know how the firearm got in my hand. I heard a gunshot from the same firearm, which was still in my hand."

Phoku said he was frightened by the gunshot.

"I then stood up and ran home," he said.

The next morning, he heard from locals that Thokozani Lambo Goma was killed at the KaMarule tavern, where he had been.

"I know I took a wrong decision by firing the weapon accidentally. In my humble request, I am voluntarily pleading guilty to a charge of culpable homicide, and I ask the court to find me guilty [of] the culpable homicide charge," Phoku said.

He did not want to waste the court's time but asked to be given a lesser charge than murder.

"I also apologise to the court, the family of the deceased and the community for what I have done."

"I know I am charged with murder but I plead guilty to culpable homicide."

Prosecutor Michael Mazibuko said the State accepted the accused's statement.

Magistrate Eddie Hall agreed and found him guilty of culpable homicide.

The case was postponed to Friday for sentencing.

-Sapa

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