‘We wrestled over gun’

2017-03-06 11:04
Murder accused Sifiso Hlengwa pictured during one of his earlier appearances in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court.

Murder accused Sifiso Hlengwa pictured during one of his earlier appearances in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court. (File)

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Former Msunduzi municipal security officer Sifiso Hlengwa pleaded not guilty on Friday to deliberately shooting dead his boss, Superintendent Phumla Dlamini, last January.

Dlamini was the acting manager of public safety at Msunduzi’s traffic department when he was killed.

The courtroom was crowded with onlookers eager to hear Hlengwa’s version of what happened on the day in question.

Hlengwa (39) said in a statement that the shooting took place while he was defending himself after Dlamini allegedly lunged for his gun and they wrestled for possession of the weapon.

The shooting followed an altercation at the Msunduzi traffic headquarters in Washington Road on January 14, 2016.

According to a post mortem report that was admitted into evidence by consent, Dlamini died of several gunshots to his head and abdomen.

“I cannot say whether it was my finger or the deceased’s that had touched the trigger at the time of the discharge of the firearm,” said Hlengwa in a written statement handed up to regional court magistrate B. Jaynarayan by defence advocate Brad Osborne.

Describing his version in the statement, Hlengwa said he was at 21 Washington Road, the headquarters of the traffic and safety division of Msunduzi Municipality, shortly after 3 pm.

“I was engaged in an altercation with the deceased, Innocent Phumla Dlamini, which arose out of my having received a letter which removed me from my post as the firearms control officer for the Msunduzi Municipality,” he said.

Hlengwa said the argument “grew heated”.

“I left the office … and proceeded to the office of Jenny-Cheryl Lewis where I had a drink of water and tried to compose myself. The deceased [Dlamini] then called me back to his office. After entering his office, the door was closed and the deceased directed me to sit down in one of the chairs in his office. As I turned and placed my hands on the arms of the chair to move it back so that I could take a seat, the deceased was standing next to me,” he said.

“He then pulled my firearm out of the waist band of my trousers. When I felt him pulling the firearm out, I turned and grabbed his hands. We then wrestled over the firearm.”

Hlengwa said in the course of the struggle both of them fell to their knees and that was when the gun went off the first time.

“A further four shots were fired in rapid succession,” he added.

According to Hlengwa, when the gun went off both he and Dlamini had their hands on the weapon and were still wrestling over it. He also said the gun was turned away from him and was facing Dlamini.

He could not say if it was his finger or Dlamini’s that touched the trigger.

He said while struggling both of them had fallen to the ground. Immediately after the shooting he (Hlengwa) got up, walked out of the office and left the traffic headquarters, he said.

He surrendered himself to police about 14 days after the shooting, he said.

Hlengwa admitted that the fatal shots were fired from his service pistol issued to him by Msunduzi, a 9mm calibre Glock 17. He also agreed to admit the contents of a long list of documents including a report which reveals that police found gun residue on Dlamini’s right hand following the incident.

He also admitted the accuracy of the post mortem report, which state prosecutor Oscar Sokhela said revealed two gunshot “entry and exit wounds” to Dlamini’s head, and four “entry and exit wounds” to his abdomen.

The bullets had caused internal damage to organs and both Dlamini’s lungs collapsed.

The case has now been adjourned to July 3 to 7 for further evidence in the trial.

Dlamini’s shooting and the subsequent manhunt for Hlengwa made headlines last January. Following his arrest, Hlengwa was fired by Msunduzi Municipality.

He was also initially denied bail by a local magistrate, but was later released on R8 000 bail after appealing to the high court.

The regional court on Friday extended his bail pending the resumption of his trial in July.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  traffic cop shooting

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