Durban - After a long-drawn-out trial, the Durban High Court has found 27-year-old Spamandla Mngoma guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder, in connection with the armed robbery of a Glenwood tote in 2011, during which a man was shot and killed.
The tote was held up by several armed men and, in handing down judgment on Thursday, Acting Judge Rod Callum said while there was no direct evidence that Mngoma, 27, had fired the shots that killed 71-year-old Herman Barnard, he was present and armed during the robbery and had fired at least one shot.
That was enough to form an association between the accused and whoever killed Barnard, he said.
The robbers held up Kruger Racing in Davenport Road in August 2011.
They took valuables from patrons and a large amount of cash from the tote.
As they left, they turned and fired shots into the premises. Barnard, who was there to place a bet, was hit twice, in the neck and the chest.
Mngoma was arrested a few days later, allegedly while preparing to carry out a robbery in Durban North.
Judge Callum said none of the witnesses to the killing had been able to identify the perpetrators, and the prosecution had had to rely on circumstantial evidence.
The State had argued that a gun found in Mngoma’s possession at the time of his arrest was linked to the bullet cartridges left at the scene, that police found an ID book belonging to Mngoma’s cousin at the tote and that the accused had tried to evade police.
Judge Callum said that in isolation none of these points sufficiently indicated Mngoma’s guilt. “But on the totality of the case, we find guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt,” he said.
Barnard’s widow, Magda, and his son, Guy, have attended Mngoma’s court appearances religiously. When asked how she felt about the verdict, Magda began to cry.
“It doesn’t bring my husband back,” she said, “But I just hope they can keep him (Mngoma) off the streets now.”
She said a guilty verdict had provided her with some closure. “I just want to move on and get on with my life.”
Mngoma’s lawyer, Thulani Shange, was not present in court yesterday. The court heard he had forgotten about the case and was acting as a magistrate at the Durban Magistrate’s Court. Judge Callum said he would report Shange to the Bar.