File photo: Reuters

Durban - The close friends of a top BMX rider stabbed to death at an all-night takeaway comforted each other as the man accused of his murder appeared in court on Tuesday.

Sbuniso Edward Dlamini, 28, of Kwamnyandu location, Pietermaritzburg, was remanded for seven days until the investigating officer could assure his safety once he is released on bail.

Prosecutor Rene Padayachee indicated in the Pietermaritzburg Magistrate’s Court that the State would not oppose bail, but said the police needed time to establish Dlamini’s safety, as threats had been made on his life.

The case was adjourned to July 15.

Dlamini is charged with Jake Smith’s murder.

Smith, 23, was stabbed to death early on Sunday at the Armitage Road KFC drive-thru after an altercation with Orlando Smeekes and Dlamini, who was the driver of Smeekes’s hired Toyota Corolla.

Smeekes is a former Maritz-burg United footballer who was brought over from the Netherlands to play for the capital city’s football team.

The Daily News has established that Smeekes was book-ed to leave South Africa and fly to the Netherlands on Wednesday.

However, because he is now a witness in Smith’s murder case, that is unlikely to happen.

The altercation happened after Smeekes allegedly accused Smith and his friend, Robin Volmink, of jumping the drive-through queue.

It is alleged that Smith and Volmink had decided to stand at the outlet’s drive-through window while waiting for Volmink’s girlfriend to drive up in the queue.

The three had gone to buy food after a night at the Tiger Tiger club in the city centre.

Smeekes allegedly jumped out of the vehicle and approached Smith and Volmink, accusing them of jumping the queue.

Smith allegedly denied the accusation and an argument between the two men ensued.

According to witnesses, the verbal altercation quickly escalated into a physical one, with Dlamini alleged to have jumped out of the car and joined the fray, armed with a knife.

Smith was stabbed and Dlamini allegedly sped away, but later handed himself over to police.

Smeekes has not been charged.

One of Smith’s close friends who was at court on Tuesday, Chris Ireland, said he was stunned by the senselessness of the the killing.

“Jake was killed over what?... Chicken? We are all struggling to deal with this. All we can do is hope that justice is done,” Ireland said, adding that they were unhappy about the State not opposing Dlamini’s bail bid.

Ireland confirmed that he and a group of Smith’s friends had started a Facebook page “No Bail for Jake Smith’s Murderer” on Monday night and by on Tuesday morning, the page already had over 2 000 “likes” with friends, family and even strangers expressing their shock and horror at Smith’s murder and their indignation at his killer being granted bail.

“Killers belong behind bars,” Ireland said.

Smith had won several BMX competitions and was due to compete in a national event next month.

His funeral service will take place at 11am on Friday at Carter High School where he matriculated.

Daily News