Durban — The Durban High Court has found Mxolisi Gcabashe guilty of the murder of ANC councillor Minenhle Mkhize in January last year.
Mkhize, 39, was elected as the eThekwini Municipality ward 103 councillor in 2021. He was shot while sitting inside his white Toyota Hilux after returning home from a sports match in the area.
On Tuesday, Acting Judge Sanele Hlatshwayo said the evidence led by the State against Gcabashe was solid and overwhelming and proved Gcabashe was the person who pulled the trigger.
Gcabashe was found guilty of theft, murder, two counts of unlawful possession of firearms and two counts of possession of unlawful ammunition. He was acquitted of conspiracy to commit murder due to insufficient evidence.
Hlatshwayo said the evidence showed that 15 cartridges found at the scene matched the ones found by police at Gcabashe’s home.
The judge said the State witnesses were credible, and their evidence was corroborative. He found Gcabashe’s claims that the police assaulted him before he was apprehended to be fabricated, and lies.
Gcabashe told the court previously that when the police implicated him in the crimes for unlawful possession of firearms and theft of a Toyota Hilux Legend, they had assaulted him. He said 10 officers took him to a bush and made him lie facing upwards. One sat on his knees, one kicked him and one put clear plastic over his face and suffocated him.
Gcabashe said he was then placed under arrest. He said that while being assaulted he saw a white officer parking a white Ford Focus ST. Gcabashe told the court the officer got out of the car with a black dog and came to the bush. He said the officer asked him about the firearms.
“He let the dog bite me and said he will remove it when I say where the firearms are,” Gcabashe told the court.
Hlatshwayo said this evidence must be rejected without doubt, and added that a State witness, who was in witness protection, had testified that they had dropped Gcabashe by Mkhize’s residence on the day he was killed.
The witness said that after dropping Gcabashe, they heard shots and were shocked. Gcabashe denied hearing shots and said Maskandi music was playing in the car.
However, Hlatshwayo rejected Gcabashe’s version and said: “His evidence on the gunshot was bad, and lies. Fifteen cartridges were found at the crime scene. It was impossible to not hear the gunshots. Gcabashe did not hear them because he was the shooter. He is the cause of Mkhize’s death. The State must be applauded for its work.”
The judge said it was clear there was no encounter between Mkhize and Gcabashe. However, the way Gcabashe went to Mkhize on that fateful day was planned somewhere.
Hlatshwayo said the court had to look at the witness who placed Gcabashe at the scene. Hlatshwayo said he did not doubt the evidence led by the witness.
“He admitted to having omitted some information in the first statement he made. He provided an explanation for that, and it was valid because he feared for his life after seeing a firearm on Gcabashe and being warned to not say anything. He decided to make another statement and told the truth after there was an attempt on his life and an innocent man was killed instead of him. All these events make him a credible witness,” Hlatshwayo said.
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.