Seven years for shooting alleged thief

2008-07-22 00:00

An Estcourt father of five who worked as a general assistant for the Road Traffic Inspectorate for 26 years has lost his pension and will go to jail for seven years for shooting an alleged cellphone thief in a tavern with an unlicensed firearm.

John Duma (57) pleaded guilty in the Estcourt Regional Court to charges of culpable homicide arising from the shooting of the victim, Mthokozisi Mzolo, on November 16, 2004, as well as to unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

He said in a statement before the trial court that he had been drinking at the tavern with his cellphone attached to a holder around his neck. As Mzolo walked passed him he allegedly grabbed Duma’s cellphone and fled to the exit.

Duma said he managed to stop him, but when he was about half a metre away, the man made another dash for the door. Duma then drew his gun and “tried to fire in the air”.

He said patrons in the tavern fled towards the exit screaming.

“In the confusion I hesitated and then fired a shot in the direction of the deceased ,” he said.

He said the firearm had belonged to his late father and he had assumed it was licensed.

After his mother died, about a week before the shooting, he fetched the gun and intended to transfer it to his name. On the way home he stopped for a beer at the tavern where the incident took place.

Acting judges Malcolm Wallis and Colin Mann agreed with regional magistrate B. Willemse that the only appropriate sentence was a custodial one.

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