Paul Jeke and Morne Croeser in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday. Jeke was found guilty of murder. Morne Croeser was acquitted of the charge but found guilty of assault. Picture: SHAN PILLAY

Pietermaritzburg - An SANDF soldier was convicted of murder on Wednesday for shooting a passenger in a bakkie whose driver tried to evade a roadblock in 2010.

Paul Jeke claimed he had acted in self-defence when he shot Sibekezelo Ndlovu, who he said was holding “something in his hand” which had made him fear for his life.

It later turned out that Ndlovu was merely carrying a USB modulator, which plays music in a car.

Jeke’s co-accused, former SAPS dog unit policeman Morne Croeser, was acquitted of murder and defeating the ends of justice. The Pietermaritzburg High Court found the State had failed to prove he had acted in common purpose to kill Ndlovu.

Croeser – who was convicted in 2012 of the murder of his wife two months after the roadblock incident – was however found guilty on a charge of assault.

The two men were charged after a shooting during a joint police and SANDF roadblock at Ingwavuma near Swaziland on June 8, 2010.

Croeser and Jeke had chased a bakkie for over 1km after the driver evaded the roadblock.

They managed to stop the vehicle after Croeser, who was on border duty in the area at the time, fired three warning shots into the air.

It was later established that the driver, Mthokozisi Manganyela, did not have a valid driving licence.

State witnesses testified that they had heard Croeser yell to Jeke: “Shoot, shoot,” before Ndlovu was shot and fell to the ground.

Croeser denied this and also the allegations that he tampered with the crime scene after the shooting to make it appear that Ndlovu was wielding a screwdriver.

The two accused pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, assault and defeating or attempting to obstruct the course of justice.

Judge Jerome Mnguni found that Manganyela’s evidence in respect of the assault on him was credible and that even in Croeser’s own version, he had admitted to “pushing Manganyela to the ground in an effort to handcuff him”.

Jeke’s claim of self-defence could not reasonably be true, he said, as there was no cause for him to believe his life was in danger as Ndlovu was unarmed.

Sentence is expected to be passed on Friday.

Croeser’s bail of R10 000 was extended until then, while Jeke is in custody.

Croeser, who was hugged by his father who cried after he was cleared of Ndlovu’s murder, is also on bail pending the outcome of the appeal against his sentence and conviction for his wife’s murder.

The former handler with the Mountain Rise dog unit murdered his wife, Erika, at their home in the Msinsi Game Reserve at Albert Falls on August 28, 2010.

The court found Croeser had staged a robbery at his home and stabbed himself in the stomach to try to mislead police. The knife, which missed all major organs and nerves, was still embedded in his abdomen when paramedics arrived.

Erika was stabbed 14 times in the face and neck.

Croeser pleaded not guilty, claiming he and Erika were attacked by an intruder.

His appeal will be heard at the Pietermaritzburg High Court in June.

Daily News