Cop’s murder conviction set aside

2008-06-26 00:00

High court judges of appeal yesterday set aside the convictions and an effective sentence of 30 years’ imprisonment imposed on a Highflats policeman, Inspector Cornelius Khumalo, by a regional court last year.

Khumalo was found guilty by an Ixopo regional court of three counts of murder and one of attempted murder, arising from a shooting incident during a wedding on November 30, 2002.

Deputy Judge President Phillip Levinsohn, with Judge Thumba Pillay, yesterday agreed with submissions by Khumalo’s advocate, Shane Matthews, that there was doubt about the correctness of the convictions and set them aside, along with the sentences.

Matthews argued that, for example, state witnesses testified that at least five shots were fired during the incident, which did not tally with evidence that only three shots were fired from Khumalo’s weapon.

Khumalo testified that on the day in question he was among police called to an alleged fight at a wedding.

He said he and other police were attacked, and one of the victims of the shooting, Francis Gumede, was among the attackers.

He said Gumede was shot during a struggle for possession of his firearm.

Khumalo said he fired two more warning shots into the air in the course of the incident, while defending himself against the attackers, who tried to take his gun, cellphone and watch.

It was further submitted that state witnesses testified that the gunman responsible for the killings did not wear a uniform and that Khumalo was dressed in police field uniform.

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