Student’s killer convicted again

2011-12-12 00:00

SIXTEEN years after he murdered a young student who was delivering pizzas in Woodlands, 32-year-old Keelan Simons has again been convicted in the regional court of five counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and one of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

The gang-related stabbing of the 19-year-old Douglas Comrie on December 4, 1995, sparked a public outcry and attracted widespread publicity.

Simons was jailed for an effective 13 years by Judge Piet Thirion for Comrie’s murder and two additional charges of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

At that time his name was withheld from newspaper reports as he was just 16 when he killed Comrie.

Last week Simons appeared before regional court magistrate Paul Ableman on new charges of robbery and assault, to which he pleaded guilty.

In a statement to court he admitted that on November 19 he held up Jayselan Naicker at a supermarket in Woodlands at gunpoint and robbed him of R3 000.

The next day he threatened Charity Madlala at Basil Bure Motors in Commercial Road with a firearm and made off with R3 000.

A couple of blocks further he held up Ruth Majozi at Total Garage in Peter Kerchhoff Street at gunpoint and took R1 000.

On November 21 he accosted Thirusha Naidoo at McDonalds fast food outlet in Chief Albert Luthuli Street, jumping over the counter and threatening her with a firearm, and robbed her of R4 500 cash.

On the same day he robbed Judith Nel of R580 cash at Amigo’s Fish and Chips in Chief Albert Luthuli Street at gunpoint.

Simons also admitted that he shot and injured Sibusiso Makaya with a pellet gun in Chief Albert Luthuli Street on November 21, with the intention of causing him grievous bodily harm.

The case has been postponed to January 24 for sentencing.

Defence attorney Nershen Naicker said on Friday that the defence expects to lead the evidence of various witnesses in mitigation, including Simons’s wife and his parole officer.

It also wishes to obtain a report from a psychiatrist or psychologist, he added.

Prosecutor Pranisha Kasool did not object to the adjournment, saying the prosecution intends to obtain victim impact statements from the robbery victims and to lead evidence in aggravation of sentence.

KEELAN Simons’s record of previous convictions was placed before the court, indicating that he was found guilty of Comrie’s murder, for which he was sentenced on February 28, 1997.

He was released on parole on February 27, 2009.

Comrie was stabbed 11 times after agreeing to give Simons and three companions a lift into town, after he delivered pizzas in Woodlands. One of the blows struck Comrie in his heart.

The motive for the murder appeared to be gang-related, according to the evidence led.

Witness Terrence Taylor was identified as a member of the “Touch Boys” gang.

He described how Simons (then 16) leaned over from the back seat of the pizza delivery vehicle and stabbed Comrie very fast in the chest.

Taylor and his companions jumped out and fled in fear and watched from behind a wall as Comrie emerged screaming and clutching his chest.

Judge Thirion rejected Simons’s defence that he was compelled to stab Comrie for fear of gang reprisals and pressure from his companions. The court found that the teen relished getting involved in gang squabbles and knew how to fend for himself in the “juvenile jungle”.

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