Why Lucky Dube was killed

accused04022009 Star In the dock: The three men accused of killing Lucky Dube, from left to right, Sifiso Mhlanga, Ludwe Gxowa and Mbuti Mabe appear at the Johannesburg High Court. Photo: Shayne Robinson, The Star

By Botho Molosankwe

About an hour after they pumped two bullets into Lucky Dube, the alleged killers returned to where the reggae superstar lay dead to see if any of the bystanders recognised them.

This was the chilling evidence of a state witness, who also revealed on Tuesday that the two men on trial for the murder didn't recognise him and thought he was a Nigerian.

State witness Mpho Maruping said her husband had confessed his involvement in Dube's botched hijacking and gave her details on what led to the multi-award-winning superstar's death.

As Dube's relatives sobbed, the woman told the Johannesburg High Court of the night Dube was shot as he dropped off his son and daughter in Rosettenville.

Maruping is the wife of Thabo Maruping. He was initially charged with Dube's murder but turned state witness.

She said her husband and three men on trial for murder, robbery, attempted robbery and illegal possession of firearms - S'fiso Mhlanga, Ludwe Gxowa and Mbuti Mabe - had been on the prowl, hunting for a Chrysler to hijack.

After their search proved fruitless, they parked their VW Polo and waited. Then a Chrysler drove up and stopped not far from them.

They pounced. Two shots were fired. Dube tried to drive off but he crashed his car into a tree and died on the spot.

Maruping said that on October 18, the day Dube was killed, she and Thabo were in Sandton at a timeshare meeting. Thabo kept receiving phone calls and later arranged to meet the three accused in the Joburg city centre.

The four men drove off in a Polo and she drove home in the couple's red bakkie.

Later, the four returned to the Maruping townhouse and Thabo asked for the keys to the bakkie.

When she asked him what he wanted them for, she realised that the Polo was damaged. Thabo's explanation was that a taxi had driven into them while they were at a filling station.

Maruping said her husband, Mhlanga, Gxowa and Mabe drove off in two cars - the couple's bakkie and an unidentified red vehicle - leaving the damaged VW at the townhouse complex.

Her husband called Mabe the night after the murder, asking him to return the bakkie. Mabe returned the vehicle, but Maruping had to take him home.

When she got back she expected to find her husband ready to go to the East Rand Mall. Instead he was glued to the TV.

The wife then asked him why he wasn't ready.

"He said Mabe had just called and told him to watch the previous night's (murder) incident on TV. I also sat and watched. They showed Lucky Dube singing, as well as a car that had collided with a tree," Maruping testified.

After the TV programme, Thabo told her how Dube was murdered.

Her husband told her that he and the three accused drove around Rosettenville, then stopped. A Chrysler C200 came into view and halted. Mhlanga and Gxowa got out of the Polo and approached it.

"Thabo said that while in the car (Polo) he heard a gunshot. Mabe told him to see what was going on. He went to the Chrysler and put his hands on the roof and looked inside.

"A second gunshot rang out as he went back to the VW. Mhlanga and Gxowa then returned and told him to drive off."

Maruping said she asked her husband why Dube was shot. "He said Mhlanga said he did not see that it was Dube and had thought he was a Nigerian.

"When I asked why he later returned (on the night of October 18) and wanted the bakkie, he said it was because they could not drive a car that had been involved in a collision.

"He also said they took the bakkie and returned to the scene to see whether anyone had seen them and also to see what was going on."

Earlier, David Mohlabai, a panelbeater from Springs, said that on October 20 he received a call from Mabe, who wanted him to repair his car's bodywork.

When they met, Mabe - who was driving a Polo - was with someone else, who was driving a bakkie.

The hearing was to continue on Wednesday.




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