Picture: succo/Pixabay

Durban - One of the three men charged in connection with the murder of 24-year-old taxi conductor Dillion Puckree in September 2017 has pleaded guilty to assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm. 

Preston Naidoo, 24, had previously faced a charge of murder. 

He pleaded guilty in the Durban Magistrate's Court this week and is expected to be sentenced next month. 

The trial of his co-accused, Ruvaal Mudali, 22, and a minor who cannot be named, have been separated. A new trial date will be set on February 3. 

In his guilty plea, Naidoo described how he tried to get Mudali to stop assaulting the accused on the day of the incident of September 9. 

Recalling events leading up to the incident Naidoo said at around 1:30am he had been in the company of his co-accused and a third person (who has not been charged).

He said all four had gone to get something to eat in the Stanger Manor area and visit the Quartz Bar. 

"We met up with a person known as Shaun to me and Puckree was in his company."

Naidoo said while he was talking to Shaun,  Puckree and the minor became involved in an argument and Puckree allegedly slapped the minor in his face. 

Naidoo said the minor proceeded to slap Puckree back. 

"The deceased proceed back into Quartz Bar and told the minor he was coming back for him. 

"The deceased returned within a few minutes in a fighting mood and he challenged the minor to a one on one fight saying that he would kill him. 

"I advised the deceased that the minor was only 17-years- old and that he should not engage him in a fight. 

"The deceased refused to listen and I lost my temper and punched him with a clenched fist in the face causing him to fall to the ground."

Naidoo said at this stage Mudali and the minor intervened and also punched and kicked Puckree on his body and face while he was laying on the ground.

He added that while Puckree tried to sit up Mudali continued with the assault and kicked him in the face causing his head to knock the tar. 

"Puckree appeared to be unconscious. I then intervened and grabbed a hold of Mudali in an effort to stop him from further assaulting the deceased as I could now see that he had been seriously injured. 

"Mudali continued to kick the deceased. However with the help of others we managed to get him away and left the scene."

He said he learnt of Puckree's death the following day on September 10. 

"It was never my intention to murder the deceased and on September 12 I handed myself over to police." 

He said although provoked he had no lawful reason and valid defence for the manner in which he acted. 

Naidoo is expected to testify for the State. 

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