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Accused deny killing taxi boss, say they weren’t close friends

Taxi owner Dustin Pillay who was allegedly shot and killed by his close friends in September 2019. Picture: Supplied

Taxi owner Dustin Pillay who was allegedly shot and killed by his close friends in September 2019. Picture: Supplied

Published Aug 31, 2023


Durban — Two men accused of killing taxi boss Dustin Pillay in September 2019 have denied being at the crime scene, and told the Durban High Court on Wednesday that they were never close friends with him. A witness on Tuesday had placed them at the crime scene.

The pair, Cebo Xulu and Thokozani Mthethwa told the court through their counsel, advocate GJ Leppan, that on the day Pillay was shot and killed at Shakaskraal taxi rank, they were nowhere near it. They face 18 charges including murder. Leppan put it to the State witness that the accused would say t they were not at the crime scene.

“Xulu will say he was in Pinetown from 10am to noon, and the phone he was using on that day was connected to cellphone towers in Pinetown. Mthethwa the second accused will say he was at Sanya and was contacted by Khe (Mfanufikile Dlamini, a deceased accused), who asked him to assist and go with him at iSipingo pounding,” said Leppan.

The witness, whom we cannot name, replied by saying: “I hear you and understand because this is what you were told. But what I am telling you is what I physically saw.”

The witness insisted and maintained the accused, including Dlamini, a deceased accused, were at the crime scene and fired shots, with Mthethwa shooting Pillay at close range.

Furthermore, Leppan put it to the witness that the accused said they had never received a weekly allowance from Pillay of R2 500. He said Mthethwa did not receive R7 000 for his wedding from Pillay.

“This is shocking,” said the witness. The witness laughed and told the court that Pillay deposited the R7 000 into Mthethwa’s wife's account, and that he knew this because he was in his company.

“That is shocking because it was not the first time Pillay deposited money into that bank account. Sometimes he would even send money through Spar. When Mthethwa could not get hold of Pillay, maybe because he was bathing, he would call me and tell me to remind Pillay to not forget to send money,” said the witness.

Leppan added that his client disputed that they were close friends of Pillay’s, and that Mthethwa never went for any sleepovers at Pillay’s home in Ballito. However, the witness said this was shocking because whenever Mthethwa came back from his homeland, Nongoma, he would get off at the freeway, and they would fetch him and he would spend the night at Pillay’s home.

“The following day we would drive him to KwaMashu,” said the witness.

Pillay, who was the manager of the Dolphin Coast Taxi Association based in Shakaskraal, north of Durban, was killed during the peak times of taxi violence in that area. Since the beginning of the trial witnesses have made it clear to the court that incidents that were happening during that time were reported to the police, but no action was taken. The witnesses said this made them not trust the police, and that when giving their first statements they withheld information.

Judge ME Nkosi imposed strict rules in court so that witnesses could testify without fear for their lives. The only people allowed in the court are families, court staff and legal representatives. The media is also not allowed to name the witnesses.

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