Lucky Dube accused found guilty

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – Slain reggae musician Lucky Dube's family clapped in excitement as the three men accused of his murder were found guilty in the High Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

Judge Seun Moshidi found Sifiso Mhlanga, Mbuti Mabe and Julius Gxowa guilty of shooting and killing Dube during a botched hijacking in Rosettenville on October 18 2007.

Mabe was also found guilty on charges related to the aggravated robbery of a VW Polo on October 13 2007. His two co-accused were acquitted on this charge.

The three men were also found guilty on charges related to the hijacking of a Mercedes Benz in Jules Street, Johannesburg, two days after Dube’s murder.

Responding to Moshidi’s verdict, Dube’s son Thokozani said the family was happy that his father’s killers had been brought to book.

"What happened to uBaba [Dube] was really traumatic to all of us, but we are happy that his killers have been found guilty. We know they are being brought to book and we can now have closure," Dube junior said.

He, along with his sister Nonkululeko, were present when their father was killed.

He hoped his father’s killers would get a "proper sentence".

Dube’s wife was too emotional to talk to journalists.
 

Before the case was adjourned for arguments in mitigation of sentence, state prosecutor advocate Lethabo Mashiane asked that two of the accused be held at the Johannesburg Central Police Station’s high risk security detention centre, rather than at Johannesburg Prison where they had been kept thus far.

The request came after two of the accused tried to escape from police custody on Tuesday morning. Judgement was delayed to ascertain if the two were fit to proceed.

The judgement started at 11.30am instead of the scheduled 10am.

Lawyers representing Sifiso Mhlanga and Mbuti Mabe told the court earlier that the two men were rushed to hospital following an attempted escape on Tuesday morning.

"Accused one [Mhlanga] attempted to escape and he got injured in the process and was taken to hospital," said advocate Vuyo Jack.

Mpho Milubi, who is representing Mabe, said the same regarding his client.

The two men allegedly assaulted a police officer at about 8am.

However, other officers managed to apprehend them before they could escape and they were rearrested and taken to hospital as they were injured in the ensuing scuffle.

Captain John Maluleke said a truck transporting prisoners from the prison to the courts arrived at about 7.30am at the high court building.

It drove into the courtyard and down to the basement where it parked next to the holding cells to offload 16 prisoners.

The roller gate was closed to seal off the basement and nine policemen were sent to carry out the prisoner transfer from the truck to the cells.

As per procedure, prisoners came out two-by-two to be handcuffed and to have their feet chained together.

Maluleke said the first two pairs of prisoners came out of the truck and were cuffed and chained.

The third pair included one of the men accused of murdering Dube.

As the two men were stepping down from the truck, both pushed hard at one of the vehicle’s doors — causing it to swing into a police officer and knock him to the ground.

A second officer, standing with the chains and cuffs in hand, was then struck by a brick in the face, allegedly wielded by one of the men accused of murdering Dube.

A third officer pulled out a firearm and fired off two warning shots into the air before demanding that all prisoners lie on the ground.

Police then handcuffed and chained the prisoners where they lay on the ground.

Four police officers were injured during the incident.

No prisoners managed to escape and the roller door was closed throughout the incident. All prisoners were placed in the holding cells.

A case of attempted escape and assault on an officer would be investigated, said Maluleke. — Sapa