Ex-cop found guilty

2017-11-16 14:01
Former policemans Thobelani Kuzwayo photographed at the regional court on Wednesday.

Former policemans Thobelani Kuzwayo photographed at the regional court on Wednesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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There was justice for Kavlin Naidoo on Wednesday when the former policeman who shot him in a road rage incident in Pietermaritzburg’s city centre three years ago, was convicted of his murder.

Thobelani Khuzwayo (36), who worked for the Family Violence Unit at the time, was also convicted of attempting to defeat the ends of justice by laying a false charge of attempted hijacking to cover up what he had done.

Naidoo’s relatives, including his mom Patsy who wore a T-shirt bearing Kavlin’s face, wept as Pietermaritzburg Regional Court magistrate M. Khumalo pronounced Khuzwayo guilty.

Khuzwayo now faces up to 15 years behind bars. The magistrate cancelled his bail and Naidoo’s relatives stood silently watching as he handed his car keys and wallet to a friend before being taken into custody.

He will appear in court again on November 29 for sentencing. On that day, prosecutor Miriam Aboobaker is expected to hand in victim impact statements.

In a detailed judgment, Khumalo said he had no doubt the incident resulted from “road rage”.

He found all the state witnesses, including Kavlin’s brother Davelin, his fiancée Sandhani Padayachee and two independent witnesses, had been honest and forthright and said “the truth has been told”.

Any minor contradictions, he said, were those of “honest witnesses with imperfect recollections”.

Khuzwayo, on the other hand, was “evasive” and changed his version as the trial went on.

The incident happened around 10 pm on November 2, 2014 when Davelin, who was driving, and Kavlin were taking Padayachee home after a family braai.

Near the intersection of Jabu Ndlovu (Loop) Street and Retief Street, Davelin said the lane was blocked by a rubbish truck. He’d moved into the right lane and then back into the left lane.

Witnesses said Khuzwayo’s car — with three women “dressed in church clothes” — came from behind and skidded to a stop in front of their car, blocking their path.

First Kavlin and then Davelin got out. There were “words and fingers pointing” and then Khuzwayo bent into his car, pulled out a gun and a shot was heard. Kavlin staggered back and fell.

A woman in Khuzwayo’s car attempted to get out and “appeared to be remonstrating with him” but he drove off with the door still open.

Padayachee and another motorist parked nearby both took down the registration number.

The magistrate said Khuzwayo pleaded not guilty and gave “an elaborate plea explanation” in which he claimed Naidoo’s car had cut him off.

He said Kavlin and “two others” advanced on him in a threatening manner and tried to open his car door. Kavlin then reached around as if to draw a firearm and it was then that he picked up his gun and fired “one shot in his direction”.

He’d denied there were any other occupants in his vehicle. But he conceded he hadn’t followed police procedure in immediately reporting the shooting. Nor had he mentioned it to his commander the following day because he “did not know the people who had attacked him and believed no one had been injured”.

Because Kavlin only died in hospital three weeks later, Khuzwayo claimed this was due to medical negligence and not a direct result of being shot.

The magistrate said evidence from medical experts was that Kavlin had “bled out” by the time he got to the hospital and had emergency surgery.

“He was basically dead. He had severe injuries. The accused cannot absolve himself.”

The magistrate also took issue with Khuzwayo’s version, commenting that Kavlin was so close to him when he shot him it was hard to believe he did not think anyone had been injured.

“He was a police officer. He knew what he ought to have done if he felt threatened. He could have run them over, he could have just pointed his firearm. He should have called for back up and arrested them.

“He should also have gone to the local police station and reported the incident and the shooting. Instead he went home.”

Regarding the false report of attempted hijacking Khuzwayo opened the next day, the magistrate said this was an attempt “to conceal the offence he had committed by implicating an innocent person in a non-offence”.

While there was evidence that this statement was made at 5 pm Khuzwayo had called a colleague who had commissioned the document who said it was a mistake and it had been done at 11 am and the error was a result of “bad handwriting”.

But magistrate Khumalo rejected this evidence, saying they were both untruthful “and trying every trick in the book”.


Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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