Taxi shooting accused claim self-defence

2015-09-30 16:35
The body of a victim of the shooting at the Brook Street taxi rank in Durban is covered with a foil sheet. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

The body of a victim of the shooting at the Brook Street taxi rank in Durban is covered with a foil sheet. (Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban - The 11 men, including President Jacob Zuma’s nephew, taxi boss Mfundo Gcaba, accused of being involved in a deadly shooting at Durban’s Brook Street taxi rank claimed they acted in self-defence.

They have also denied being members of Port Shepstone based Zamokuhle Long Distance Taxi Associations rival, Sonke Long Distance Taxi Association.

The men appeared at the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday before Magistrate Phumlani Bhengu.

William Kunene, Hezekiah Masiteng, Xolani Mhlongo, Vusi Ngubane, Sibongiseni Khanyile, Lucas Mhlenti, Brett Rayner, Thulani Dyanti, Mandla Nkosi, Mhlabunzima Gasa and Gcaba were arrested after a shooting at the Brook Street taxi rank which left three people dead, including an innocent commuter.

Matter struck off roll

Accused number 12 Thokozani Sikhakhane, who was shot in the buttock during the incident, has been hospitalised and has never appeared before court.

The men have been charged with murder, attempted murder and public violence.

During the bail application on Wednesday, State Prosecutor Khumbu Shazi asked Bhengu to take the matter off the roll, to which Bhengu agreed.

“When the men were initially arrested accused number 12 went to hospital and he was not arrested or appeared in court, we are not even sure if he was formally charged.

“We have been waiting for him to be discharged from hospital. However we found out yesterday [Tuesday] that he was at Westville Prison. I am not sure how he got there but have since learnt that a detention warrant was obtained.”

Shazi said the fact that accused number 12 has never appeared in court before cannot because he was in a stretcher in high care, was a problem.

“We are going to strike the matter off the roll for now.”

Bhengu agreed to the application.

At rank for a meeting

Defence attorney Jimmy Howse read out the first applicant, William Kunene’s affidavit and five others about the day of the shooting.

“The Berea taxi association rents an office from the eThekwini Municipality which is situated at the Brook Street taxi rank which is in very close proximity to the Zamokuhle taxi parking bays.

“The keys for the office are kept by the rank manager Wanda Khanyile. The purpose of all the applicants except for applicant number nine were at the rank to conduct an inspection at the taxi rank, and thereafter hold a meeting at the Berea taxi association offices.

“My co-applicants and I arrived at the taxi rank at about 05:45 and the 12th applicant who is a taxi driver met me at the taxi rank.

“As explained it is standard practice to have bodyguards in the taxi industry and especially when a group is attending a meeting.”

Kunene said the reason for the inspections was to address a complaint involving the Matatielle Drakensburg Taxi Association. He said their presence there had nothing to do with Zamokuhle or the Sonke disputes.

He said after conducting the inspection they approached the office situated on the first floor.

“When we arrived we waited for Wanda Khanyile for the keys. We became aware of the Zamokuhle bodyguards had taken up strategic positions on either side of us.

Howse read that shots were fired and the accused took cover.

“I understand that during the shooting incident one of the Zamokuhle bodyguards was shot and killed as well as an innocent bystander.

“As far as the Zamokuhle bodyguards in concerned, if he was struck by one of the bullets fired by my co-applicants, it was in self-defence,” read Howse.

The case is continuing.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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