Alleged killers of a petrol station owner claim they were assaulted
Durban - Two men accused of killing a Durban petrol station owner claim they were assaulted at the time of their arrest and forced into signing statements.
The allegations emerged at the start of the trial involving Menziwa Afrika Mdakane, 35, and Zakhele Dubazane, 32, both of Dobsonville in Soweto. They were arrested and charged for killing Kidesh Ramjettan outside his business, south of Durban, during August 2018. Ramjettan, a father of one, was in the parking lot of his Clairwood petrol station when a gunman walked up to him and shot him in the head. He died at the scene.
Mdakane and Dubazane are also charged with the unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and ammunition. Both men pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
A third accused, Ayanda Shezi, 34, of Ulundi, northern KZN, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to life imprisonment in the Durban Magistrate’s Court during November 2018.
Senior state advocate, Nadira Moosa, said the State would aim to prove that Mdakane and Dubazane were hired to kill Ramjettan.
"The state will rely on the testimony of Ayanda Shezi and intends to lead evidence of cellphone activity between Mr Shezi and both accused on the day and the days leading up to the events."
She said the state would also use the statements the accused made to the police.
Advocate Louis Barnard, representing Mdakane and Dubazane, told the court both accused had decided to remain silent for now.
He said the rights of both accused were violated and they had been denied the right to see an attorney. They had also not wanted to make a statement to police.
Barnard claimed Mdakanze and Dubazane were assaulted and had guns pointed at them. He said the assault had started during their arrest and once they arrived at the Isipingo SAPS from Johannesburg.
He claimed Mdakane was threatened with death. According to Barnard, when Dubazane refused to make a statement, he was threatened with assault. Eventually, under pressure, he signed.
The court then agreed to test whether the statements could be used as evidence in the trial.
Captain Iqbal Dawood, of the Provincial Investigations Unit, testified on behalf of the state. He said the two accused were arrested after police interviewed Shezi.
“My team and I were informed that a suspect was arrested in Johannesburg. We proceeded to Johannesburg. We were met by a team in Johannesburg. At that stage, arrangements were already made for a confession from Shezi. When we interviewed him, it became apparent he had more information.”
Dawood said both teams went to premises where the other two accused were arrested. The next day they were driven to Durban.
Dawood said Dubazane was informed of his rights before his statement was taken.
“I informed him of his right to remain silent as well his right to consult with a legal representative of his choice and his right to be provided with a representative by the state. He said that he knew his rights and signed the acknowledgement.”
Dawood denied the men were assaulted.
The trial continues.