Three men guilty of Pelham liquor store murder

2010-07-08 00:00

THREE men were found guilty yesterday of the murder of Johnny Canos (19), who was shot dead at Pelham Liquors four years ago.

With a fourth accused they were also convicted in the high court in Pietermaritzburg of robbery with aggravating circumstan­ces. A fifth accused was acquitted of all charges.

The hold-up at the bottle store took place in broad daylight on June 22, 2006.

The court will consider submissions before sentencing on July 15.

Some of the accused were also convicted of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition, including the alleged murder weapon, a 9 mm pistol, of which the serial number had been erased.

The men found guilty of Canos’s murder are Vusumusi Ngcobo (27), who was found in possession of the alleged murder weapon, Sifiso Thusi (25) and Zenzele Mkhize (22), all of Durban.

Acting Judge Nompumelelo Radebe acquitted taxi driver Bheki Nzama (31) of Cato Manor.

The court found that Nzama, who ferried the robbers from Durban and to and from the scene of the murder and robbery, was compelled out of fear to go along with the events that day.

In his testimony, Nzama said he did not have prior knowledge of the robbery plan, but was hired to transport several people to Pietermaritzburg, and told where to go. He said that when he and his conductor (Mncedisi Dladla, a state witness in the trial) saw that some of the passengers had firearms, there was nothing he could do and he kept quiet out of fear. He also later shared in the spoils of the robbery because he was afraid to raise any protest.

Evidence was led that each participant received R150, which was shared out at a local tavern.

Nzama said in his evidence that when the attackers returned to his minibus after robbing the bottle store, one of them said a white person had died there.

Another perpetrator, Ntokozo Zondi (19), was found guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances, but not of murder on the grounds that he did not know his co-robbers had firearms.

The court accepted the evidence of state witnesses Dladla and Nkosinathi Ntshangase, who were warned as accomplices to the offences, and granted them indemnity from prosecution.

The court ordered that bail granted previously to Zondi and Mkhize be withdrawn pending the sentencing.

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