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Cape Town - A Hout Bay man has been convicted of the “execution-style” killing of two police officers after an altercation about moving his car.
Western Cape High Court Judge Patricia Goliath and her assessor agreed that the State had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Fabianus Fillipus had killed constables Phindiwe Nikani, 26, and Mandisi Nduku, 27, while they were patrolling in Mandela Park at about 11pm on October 12.
The officers had asked Fillipus to move his white BMW because it was blocking a narrow road in the informal settlement, and while he initially resisted, he later agreed to do so.
About 20 minutes later witnesses heard gunshots.
During the three-hour judgment Fillipus, from Namibia, sat stony-faced in the dock and, after the guilty verdict was handed down, stood up and stretched before being escorted to the holding cells.
Judge Goliath referred to the evidence of a pathologist who said the officers were shot in their vehicle at point-blank range, from between 40cm and 60cm.
The shots came from the left-hand side of the vehicle where Nikani was seated. She was hit in the head, chest and left hand, and died at the scene. Nduku was shot once in the head and died in hospital. Ballistic evidence showed that no shots were fired from the officers’ service pistols.
Witnesses testified that when they arrived at the scene the police vehicle’s engine was still running and its lights were on.
Judge Goliath said the State witnesses made a good impression on the court and she found they were reliable and honest. She said the three Namibian witnesses knew Fillipus. “So the chances of mistaken identity in terms of their evidence is not an issue. Fillipus and the Namibian witnesses had no axes to grind,” the judge said.
Referring to the evidence of two South African witnesses, Judge Goliath said they had impressed her.
While one saw Fillipus look back three times as he ran from the murder scene, she was able to identify him as the man who drove the white BMW in the area. The other, although she drank seven alcoholic drinks that night, said she had spoken to Fillipus before and could give a clear account of what she saw to police.
“She established the Namibian connection of the perpetrator.”
The judge rejected Fillipus’s alibi defence as false because the man he claimed he was with that night had testified against him.
In court, Fillipus said he left Hout Bay after the killings because residents told him his life was in danger.
The judge said: “He was clearly acting like someone who had done something wrong… in our view, the cumulative effect of the circumstantial evidence points in one direction and that is that the accused is the person who committed the crimes.”
Sentencing proceedings are set to start on Wednesday.