Man accused of killing neighbour over WhatsApp row claims it was 'self-defence'

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  • Leon Coetzee is accused of stabbing Thembinkosi Thabethe in Green Acres Estate in Montana.
  • Coetzee alleged that Thabethe was the aggressor - and that he acted in self-defence.
  • The State says Coetzee ran after Thabethe, who was then stabbed while lying helplessly on the ground. 

Leon Coetzee, the man accused of murdering Thembinkosi Thabethe, following an uproar because of a WhatsApp message, said he acted in self-defence. 

Coetzee, 55, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court on Wednesday, where he applied for bail. 

It is alleged that, on 26 April, Coetzee stabbed Thabethe three times outside his home in Green Acres Estate in Montana, Pretoria. 

According to the State, Thabethe went to Coetzee's house to confront his wife after a screengrab of a message addressed to her was shared on the estate's WhatsApp group. 

The message in question, which was in Afrikaans, said Coetzee's wife should concern herself with those "pigs" and that TT is very corrupt. 

It's believed that TT is Thabethe.

READ | Case postponed for man accused of stabbing wife to death in car

The message was originally sent to another WhatsApp group, but was then screengrabbed and sent to the estate's WhatsApp group.

Coetzee, in his bail affidavit, said he was not part of any of the WhatsApp groups, and that his wife had not typed that message nor responded to the message.

He admitted to coming out of his house, carrying a knife, after Thabethe started banging on his gate and "verbally assaulting" his wife.

According to Coetzee, Thabethe was overly aggressive and said, "come out, white racist bitch". 

He also allegedly yelled, "I will kill you". 

Coetzee further claimed that Thabethe also assaulted a female neighbour, who came out to see what the commotion was about.

This was the moment when Coetzee allegedly opened the gate and told Thabethe that he had a knife.

"The deceased person then focused his attention and aggression on me and attempted to disarm me," Coetzee said.

A scuffle then ensued between me and the deceased person. The deceased person backed off and again launched an attack on me with a rock. I instinctively defended myself. In the process, the deceased person was wounded, and I also sustained injuries to my left hand.

Thabethe died in hospital on 1 May.

However, the State alleges that Coetzee attacked Thabethe, that he chased after him and stabbed him twice, on the left side of the neck and under his right arm.

It's further alleged that Thabethe scrambled to defend himself, but fell on the ground, facing upwards.

At that point, the State alleges, Coetzee stabbed him a third time.

According to the State, two witnesses, a child, aged 7, and a security guard tried to intervene, but they were overpowered by the accused. 

Following the stabbing, the child then placed a jacket over Thabethe, while Coetzee walked back into his house, the court heard.

Coetzee's advocate, Werner Jungbluth, said the witnesses could not possibly have seen the accused run after Thabethe as he recently had knee surgery. 

The matter has been postponed to 7 May for arguments and judgment.

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