Durban - A man claims he acted in self-defence when he killed a 7-year-old Chatsworth boy because the child and his friends had transformed into tigers before his eyes.
Sibusiso Madiya, 26, of Savannah Park, pleaded not guilty to a charge of murder in the Durban Regional Court on Thursday.
Madiya told the court through his Legal Aid attorney, Hycenth Mlotshwa, he saw the “tiger” – Grade 1 pupil Lindokuhle Mabhena – approach him at a Shallcross park in June last year and thought he was going to attack him.
He had stabbed the boy with a knife he had found on the ground earlier.
It was only after a group of people arrived that he realised it was not a tiger but a human being, he said.
Madiya made this admission at the start of his murder trial yesterday before magistrate Trevor Levitt.
Mlotshwa told the court his client believed in supernatural powers and even in the prison where is being held during the trial he saw fellow inmates transform into animals.
Prosecutor Krishen Shah said the accused had been referred for mental observation and was deemed mentally fit to stand trial.
Mlotshwa said at around midday on June 15 last year, Madiya was skateboarding at a park in Peak Street, Shallcross, when seven young children, who had been following him, approached him. He said they all suddenly transformed into tigers.
Lindokuhle’s friend, who is now 10 years old and cannot be named because he is a minor, testified in camera on Thursday.
Sitting with his back to Madiya and facing the magistrate, the boy bravely recalled the day he tried to help save his friend.
In Grade 3 at the time, he was the oldest in the group of friends who went to play in the park that day. The others were all in Grade 1.
He said they had played on the swings and were on their way out of the park when they noticed Madiya, who they did not know, sitting on the ground with his skateboard. He said the accused asked them to find him a container for water and they had obliged.
Madiya told them to fill it with water for him, so they walked to a nearby garage to do so. When they returned, the accused took them to nearby bushes, saying he could not eat in front of people.
The boy said the boys followed him and Madiya shared his bread and chips with them.
He told them to look for more empty containers and promised them more food but they refused.
The boy said Madiya lent them his skateboard and the friends, except for Lindokuhle, played with it on the steep road near the bush. Lindokuhle sat on the verge of the road and Madiya went further into the bushes as if he was looking for something.
“We were going up and down the road on the skateboard. While we were playing, we had our back to Lindokuhle and (Madiya). We then saw the uncle (Madiya) running towards us and he took the skateboard, saying he was going. When we looked back, I saw Lindokuhle lying on the ground and we ran to him,” he recalled.
“He was bleeding from a hole in his neck. I carried him to the lawn nearby and I lay him down. He was crying softly. I asked him what happened and he pointed out to the uncle (Madiya). We could still see him. I called to another uncle for help and he said he’ll call the police,” he testified.
The police arrived and the man who had called for help questioned the little boy about what had happened and he described a young man wearing different coloured shoes.
The man said he knew who the child was talking about and informed the police, who went in search of the suspect.
Under cross-examination, Mlotshwa argued that Madiya said “something strange happened” at the park when the boys transformed into tigers and that Lindokuhle had threatened injury to his client.
The child witness said he and his friends were just playing and had not done anything wrong to Madiya.
The trial is set to resume next month.