Emmanuel Sithole killers now claiming self-defense
The four men accused in shocking killing Mozambican hawker, Emmanuel Sithole, during the xenophobic tensions earlier this year, are now claiming self-defence, their lawyers told the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday.
Mthinto Bhengu, Sizwe Mngomezulu, Sifundi Mzimela and a 17-year-old boy are facing charges of murder and assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm relating to the attack on Sithole.
Tshege Ntake, who is representing Bhengu and the minor, told the court that his clients would deny assaulting Sithole intentionally. According to the lawyer, Bhengu claims he was beat up by Sithole when he tried to help the minor, who had been attacked by Sithole.
Ntake said his client grabbed a knife from vegetable hawker, Fabian Gomez’ stand, to defend himself from Sithole.
“Accused one [Bhengu] had had an operation on his belly. He fell to the ground after the deceased [Sithole] punched him in the belly. He then recovered and grabbed a knife from your [Gomez] vegetable stand to defend himself,” Ntake told the court.
However, Gomez, a second state witness, denied Ntake’s version of the events and testified that the four accused took cigarettes from Sithole without paying, and then assaulted him when he demanded his cigarettes back.
Sithole was stabbed with a knife and beat up with a spanner, Gomez told the court.
”Accused one [Bhengu] will testify that there was never a point where Sithole was assaulted or stabbed. He only used the knife to scare Sithole,” said Ntake.
Ntake added that it was not true that the minor carried a beer bottle.
”He will tell this court that he never poured any beer onto Sithole or hit him with the bottle…he did not have a beer bottle with him.”
Sithole’s relatives, seated in the public gallery, shook their heads in disagreement as they listened to Ntake.
Vhonani Matshidza, for Mngomezulu and Mzimela, said the spanner Gomez referred to was taken from a nearby street mechanic by Mzimela, also in a bid to defend himself against Sithole.
”Accused four will inform the court that the deceased hit him with a brick while he tried to ascertain what a fight that broke out was all about. He grabbed the spanner from a mechanic to defend himself against the deceased.”
Gomez shook his head in disagreement.
”I did not see the event that the lawyer is talking about…I saw the accused take out a spanner from his pants and assault Emmanuel.”
Matshidza said Mngomezulu was nowhere near the scene when the fight broke out.
Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff postponed the trial to July 10.
---aditional reporting SABC
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