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Durban - Three teenagers accused of murdering a woman when they allegedly threw a concrete slab on to the car she was travelling in have been described as evasive and poor witnesses.
This was according to State prosecutor, Krishen Shah, during closing arguments in the Durban Regional Court yesterday.
Lucky Leon Khumalo, 18, Brandon Phillip, 18, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named because he is a minor, are alleged to have thrown a concrete slab off the Candella Road bridge spanning the N3, killing Siphesihle Zola Zuma.
Zuma had been in the passenger seat of her colleague, Gertrude Mankaba’s, car when she was hit by the slab on November 2, 2010. She was taken to St Augustine’s Hospital, where she died.
The teens have pleaded not guilty.
Shah said the trio had contradicted one another on the witness stand.
“They were evasive under cross-examination, their evidence was riddled with improbabilities and they displayed poor demeanour,” he said.
Shah said that, given the evidence of an eyewitness and the accused, all three accused were present when the concrete slab was thrown and fatally wounded Zuma.
Shah argued that they had started off throwing stones at each other, and then onto the road. He added that they had looked for more stones behind the house of a nearby resident, Navine Nagdutt. Nagdutt was also a witness.
“The accused returned to the bridge and they all picked up the slab despite being admonished by Nagdutt minutes earlier,” he said.
“It is respectfully submitted that by their continued association with each other and their actions of throwing concrete on to the freeway, they acted in common purpose.”
Mohamed Hassim, defence attorney for Khumalo and Phillip, argued after referring to the evidence given by the eight State witnesses that the State had not determined the exact size of the slab.
“This is particularly important as there is a difference in versions. I say this simply because it’s the version of (Khumalo and Phillip) that (the minor) had slid the slab between the balustrades which resulted in it falling on to the vehicle,” he explained.
Hassim said the State had argued that the slab was lifted by the three accused and hurled over the bridge.
“It has been the State’s contention that all the three accused had acted in common purpose in throwing the slab over the bridge resulting in Zuma’s death,” he said, arguing, however, that his clients were not part of the slab throwing.
He said there was no evidence to suggest that the three teens had together planned, premeditated or conspired to commit the offence they were charged with.
“It is submitted that the State has not proven the guilt of accused one and two (Khumalo and Phillip) beyond all reasonable doubt.
“In the event of any doubt existing, the benefit of such doubt should be afforded to the accused and therefore accordingly be found not guilty,” he said.
Clive Muthwa, the defence lawyer for the 17-year-old, said it was up to the court to decide the matter.
However, Muthwa asked the court to reject the evidence of Khumalo and Phillip and instead take his client’s evidence as the truth, and to find him not guilty. He said Khumalo and Phillip had implicated his client because he was the youngest.
The matter was adjourned to April 18 for judgment.