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Pietermaritzburg - Two policemen brothers, jailed for killing five people and wounding another in a Durban pub in 2008, appeared in leg irons in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Friday still protesting their innocence two years after being convicted.

But their desperation did not stir the three judges hearing the appeal against their long jail sentences. The matter was postponed indefinitely.

Family and friends were in court as Brian Steven, 40, and his brother Leon, 36, appeared before judges Shyam Gyanda, Gregory Kruger and Anton van Zyl.

Brian, who was a warrant officer at the Mayville police station when the attack at the Umbilo Merseyside pub happened, was sentenced to 25 years. Leon, who was a sergeant at the Durban Central police station, was given 20 years. They randomly fired gunshots that killed Shawn Strydom, 32, Roy Menzies, 40, Nick Jansen van Rensburg, 47, and Bruce Edwards, 57, and injured Edwards’s son Shaun, 31.

Advocate Murray Pitman, for the men, argued that the brothers were provoked by racial slurs and attacked before they fired shots in self-defence.

The court heard that the argument started with a comment over penis size in the pub’s toilet. This was followed by racial insults. Later a fight broke out, which led to the brothers being kicked out.

Advocate Sheriza Ramouthar, for the State, said the two should have known better because they were police officers.

“However, instead they armed themselves and forced their way back into the pub,” said Ramouthar.

Outside the pub, someone shouted “a gun” as Brian was seen carrying a firearm. This led to people running into the pub for safety.

Ramouthar said a car guard had testified that he saw Brian handing a gun to Leon before they forced their way in.

Brian had argued that he went inside alone and Leon followed when he heard that his brother was under attack.

Brian said that while inside he was attacked, which led to him dropping his gun, which he picked up and fired.

However, the judges said there was strong evidence that the brothers were not under attack when they fired shots.

None of the people killed were involved in the fight with the brothers.

Leon kissed his wife as he left the court. She declined to give her name.

She told The Mercury that she had been disappointed as she had hoped the judges would decide on the appeal the same day. - The Mercury