Cape Town - Abdur-Rahiem Israel on Monday took the stand telling the court that he consulted with his mother before becoming a gang member in prison.
He is accused of killing two people, Jacobus Pietersen and Shahied Sallie, on two separate occasions and being involved in a spate of robberies between December 7, 2015, and October 14, 2018.
His lawyer, Advocate Nawaal Abdurahman, questioned him about specific incidents and the charges against him. During his testimony, Israel denied that he committed the robberies or used firearms.
He said he couldn’t fathom why he was viewed as the person who committed these crimes.
Israel told the court that he had been in custody for more than four years and admitted that he became a gang member in prison for his own safety.
He said he had asked his mother before he joined the gang and she told him it was his choice. He said after he tried to remove the tattoos, he was assaulted in prison.
Israel admitted that he was present during three incidents stated in the charges, including the shooting that led to the death of Pietersen and Sallie as well as the attempted murder of an e-hailing driver, Aime Kinzozi.
It was also his testimony that he was in the company of gang members when the crimes were committed but he was not the perpetrator.
He testified that he happened to meet a gang member in Goodwood on the day Kinzozi was shot. He said they drove together and as they were approaching the drop-off, this man took out a firearm and that is when he fled the scene.
“I never ran so fast in my life,” he said.
He further testified that when Shahied Sallie was shot and killed, he sustained a flesh wound to the arm as he fled the scene and denied that he was the shooter.
He questioned evidence given by witnesses, specifically that of an elderly woman who said that she crept up behind a wall, hid behind a tree and was able to get a visual of him holding a firearm.
He also said that he was injured before Pietersen was shot and pinned the murder on yet another gang member whom he met minutes before the incident.
While testifying, Israel seemed very familiar with gang-related activity and was able to tell the court how gangs operate in the Rocklands area.