‘Fatal golf blow was self defence’

2016-05-19 10:40

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Pietermaritzburg - A Pietermaritzburg tow truck operator has denied that he intentionally killed a rival operator during an altercation in 2014 and claims that he struck the man with a golf club in self defence.

Githesh Ragunath and his employer Prashim Ramnarayan, owner of Mr Towing, have pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder arising from the death of Virendhra Dewcharan during an incident near the Protea Hotel in Hilton on June 18.

Dewcharan died in hospital after he was allegedly hit with a golf club during an argument.

In a statement handed to court by defence advocate Gideon Scheltema SC yesterday, Ragunath said the main opposition business to Mr Towing was Umgeni Towing operated by Dewcharan.

Ragunath said he was employed by Mr Towing as a mechanic and a tow truck operator.

He alleged that during 2014 there were various incidents when Dewcharan and his employees had verbally and physically abused him and other employees of Mr Towing.

“During these altercations the deceased [Dewcharan] threatened to kill me should I continue to take business away from him,” he said.

Ragunath said on the day of the incident, June 18, 2014, he and Ramnarayan had responded to an accident in Hilton Avenue. A tow truck belonging to Umgeni Towining also arrived at the scene, driven by a man known as “Angelo”.

He alleged that a fight broke out at the accident scene and claims that Angelo assaulted him. He alleged Dewcharan’s brother, Sunil, who also arrived at the scene in an Umgeni tow truck, was “very aggressive” and threatened to kill both him and Ramnarayan.

He alleged Sunil had assaulted Ramnarayan in the presence of police who attended the incident. He said at that stage he took a golf club from his vehicle to defend himself and his employer, but didn’t use it then.

According to Ragunath police intervened in the “very volatile” situation at the accident scene, and instructed the Umgeni Towing operators to leave.

However he said, after the SAPS had gone, Dewcharan arrived and was allegedly “furious”.

“He started to assault accused two [Ramnarayan] threatening to kill him,” said Ragunath.

According to Ragunath he and Ramnarayan had managed to get back into their tow truck but before they could drive away, Dewcharan had again started to assault Ramnarayan.

Ragunath said realising that Ramnarayan’s life was in danger, he had alighted carrying the golf club.

When he saw Dewcharan “reach for something behind his back” he had thought Dewcharan was going to shoot him and he struck a blow in the direction of his upper body with the golf club. “Everything happened in a matter of seconds and I was uncertain as to where on his body the deceased [Dewcharan] got struck … He stumbled and fell against the rear part of the tow truck,” said Ragunath.

He said he and Ramnarayan got back in their truck and drove off to Hilton police station.

He said when he hit Dewcharan he had genuinely believed his life, as well as that of Ramnarayan, was in danger.

A state witness, Bruce Shelembe, who was involved in the accident that led to the altercation between the tow operators, told the court that after police had departed from the scene he saw Dewcharan arriving.

A further altercation then took place and he saw Ragunath hit Dewcharan with what looked like a “black iron rod” on his head causing him to fall down. The case is proceeding today.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court

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