Durban — Two men charged with the kidnapping and murder of an off-duty Durban Public Order policeman, who was shot and torched in the boot of his car during the height of the July 2021 unrest, will know their fate on Tuesday when the Durban High Court delivers its verdict in the case.
Mzikayifani “Kayelihle” Ndebele and co-accused Sibusiso Ndlela, who were 18 and 19 at the time of the crime, appeared in court on Friday.
It is alleged that off-duty policeman Zolani Leadus Zuma had been driving in his blue VW polo dressed in civilian clothes on the night of July 13.
He came across Ndebele and the assailants who had looted goods from a car that Afrika Mthembu was driving. The policeman followed them to a house in Tshelimnyama.
Previous testimony was that Zuma chased after Mthembu’s Kia truck in his Polo and fired shots while in pursuit. At the house, the officer confronted Mthembu and the assailants producing his state firearm.
Ndebele dispossessed Zuma of his gun and allegedly shot him and in the process; a shot hit his uncle Mthembu in the knee. Mthembu was rushed to St Mary’s Hospital in his truck by his son Lungelo as well as his nephew Nzuzo Khethokuhle Mngadi.
Mngadi testified that Zuma was put into two refuse bags and loaded into the boot of his car while he was still alive. According to the testimony, Ndlela, Duve (previously mentioned in testimony) and Lungelo participated in this act.
Nzuzo’s evidence is that Lungelo and Duve hatched the plan to go and torch the officer in his car. He said he stayed behind when Lungelo, driving the Kia and Duve driving the Polo with Ndlela and another (person) unknown to him left to do this.
Zuma’s car was found burnt the following day, and his charred body was discovered in the boot.
Ndebele’s evidence was that while trying to dispossess Zuma of the gun, shots were fired during that struggle.
Ndlela’s version was that he was not present when Zuma was put in the refuse bags or in the boot.
He said when he got into the Polo with his friend Samu with Duve driving, he thought they were taking the officer to the hospital and did not know that Zuma’s car would be set alight with his body in the boot.
Ndlela’s attorney, J Hariram, argued that given the set of circumstances with the looting and fear it was most possible that Nzuzo could have mistaken who was there and who heard what.
However, Judge Carol Sibiya said Ndlela’s conduct after the fact made it difficult to believe he disassociated himself.
“He went home with Duve and Lungelo to hang out with the two after they had burnt the car with a man inside,” said Judge Sibiya.
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