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Durban - Murder-accused bouncer Hector Britts did not shoot Craigh Botha. Nor did he know who did, the Durban Magistrate’s Court heard on Wednesday.
“I don’t own a firearm and no firearm was seized from me. I would be surprised if any of the witnesses indicate that they saw me in possession of a firearm and that they witnessed me shooting the deceased,” the 33-year-old said in an affidavit read out by his attorney, Ridwaan Sayed.
Britts was applying for bail, which was opposed by the State, but granted nonetheless.
He stands accused of having shot and killed Botha, 38, earlier this month but intends to plead not guilty.
Britts was working at the Rocca Bar nightclub in Durban that evening and claims Botha, a patron, attacked him “by throwing a flurry of punches”.
“I was taken by surprise and did not even have an opportunity to retaliate. It was at this stage that somebody shot the deceased,” he said.
For the State, public prosecutor Blackie Swart read out investigating officer Selvan Naidoo’s affidavit opposing Britts’s release.
“The applicant is well aware that the State has a strong case against him. That constitutes a temptation for him to flee in order for him not to stand trial,” it said. It also said Britts’s criminal profile, which included his being convicted of fraud in 1999, a pending charge of assault and numerous charges (such as attempted murder and armed robbery) which were withdrawn – had somehow become public knowledge.
“This has instilled fear in witnesses who have not yet submitted statements.”
Finally, the community had “demanded” bail be withheld, the affidavit said, and Britts’s release would jeopardise the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system.
Sayed argued that Britts had been employed in the municipality’s fire and disaster management division for 13 years and owned the Newlands East home in which he lived with his wife, Lauren, along with three of his five children.
Britts had not travelled outside the country, did not own a passport and was not a flight risk. Sayed said the court could not be swayed by public emotion and that a bail application was not “a forum for anticipatory punishment”.
Magistrate Vanitha Armu appeared to agree and set bail at R10 000. Botha’s family was “very, very disappointed.”
“I have heard of house robbers’ bail being set higher,” his brother, Andrew, said.
Britts is expected back in court next month.