Temple lamp killing: four guilty

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DAILY NEWS

The family of the four men found guilty of kidnapping, culpable homicide, attempted murder, assault and impersonating a police officer threatened the Daily News photographer against taking photographs of the accused who had hidden their faces from the camera. After a complaint, the photographer was assigned a police bodyguard. Picture: Gcina Ndwalane

Durban - Four men, convicted of kidnapping and culpable homicide, will know their fate next month when they are expected to be sentenced.

In the Durban High Court on Monday, sacked police reservist Murugan Chetty, 45, his son, Kuben, 20, and his nephews Jason Chetty, 25, and Damien Chetty, 32, were found guilty of culpable homicide and kidnapping.

Leon Joseph and Deen Reddy were kidnapped by the accused after the two had been accused of stealing religious lamps from a community temple in Clare Estate.

Reddy was killed.

Judge Mohini Moodley said the State had failed to prove that the assault by all four men had caused Reddy’s death, but found that the facts sustained a conviction of culpable homicide against all four accused.

She also found Murugan and Damien guilty of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm.

Murugan was also found guilty of impersonating a police officer.

He had been discharged as a police reservist in 2006, for not fulfilling 16 hours of prescribed duty and for misconduct.

Jason and Kuben were also found guilty of attempted murder.

The medical evidence also could not establish which of the assaults had caused Reddy’s death, she said.

During arguments for sentencing, defence advocate Murray Pitman said the men were good people who had got involved in a situation that had got out of control.

In court it emerged that Murugan had seen Joseph walking along Clare Road, in Clare Estate, on September 19, 2012.

Murugan had received information that Joseph was responsible for the theft of the religious lamps from their community temple.

Joseph had testified that Murugan had identified himself as a police officer and had forced him into his Nissan bakkie.

He was then taken to Murugan’s house where the rest of the accused were present. Joseph was questioned and assaulted by all four men who also asked about Reddy’s whereabouts.

Reddy was also accused of stealing the lamps. At Reddy’s house, Joseph testified that he (Reddy) was slapped.

Both men were then handcuffed and taken back to Murugan’s house to an outbuilding.

From the time they were kidnapped, they were assaulted with a hockey stick by all four men.

Joseph testified that a man by the name of Zuberi Byamungu had also assaulted them with a chopper.

Joseph said Byamungu had wanted to chop off his hands and legs. Byamungu is on the run from police.

Joseph denied stealing the lamps, while Reddy confessed to doing so and said he had sold the lamps.

Joseph said Reddy was also assaulted with a Taser gun. Joseph said that at this point, Reddy was dead.

Police found Reddy’s body the next day alongside a footpath in Silverglen Drive, Bayview.

Moodley found Joseph to be a credible and reliable witness who had lacked the sophistication and the experience to concoct a story that implicated all four accused.

She described all the accused’s testimonies as rehearsed and that they had tried to discredit Joseph’s testimony by saying he was a drug user and a vagabond at some point.

During arguments for sentencing, Pitman said Jason and Kuben were studying Crime and Investigation at Unisa and International Shipping at Maritime School respectively.

Murugan was a logistics supervisor and Damien worked at an electrical company.

The matter has been provisionally adjourned until next month for the reports.

noelene.barbeau@inl.co.za

Daily News


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