Taxi murder accused cites self-defence

The pair had been charged with stock theft.
Photo: Supplied

The pair had been charged with stock theft. Photo: Supplied

The trial of a man accused of shooting dead a taxi driver during a robbery in Inanda, north of Durban, could not proceed in the Durban High Court last week because there was no standby to replace the court’s interpreter who was sick.

Judge Shermaine Balton had to adjourn the trial to today.

Philani Clement Luthuli, 29, had on Tuesday pleaded not guilty to the murder of taxi driver Linda Elias Mabasa on April 14 last year. Luthuli also denied he had tried to shoot taxi conductor Thandanani Msomi on the same date.

Msomi has told the court that Luthuli was pretending to be a passenger when he boarded the taxi going to the Durban CBD from Inanda.

The accused sat in the front passenger seat, he said.

The court heard that the taxi had stopped at an intersection near Ohlange when Luthuli allegedly pulled out a gun and demanded money from the driver.

“The driver asked the conductor to give the robber the money. He then shot the driver before he turned to the conductor,” said Slindelo Goba, one of the passengers.

Msomi managed to grab the firearm from the accused before a shot went off which missed him by inches and hit the roof of the taxi.

“As they wrestled over the firearm, the conductor shouted for assistance. I then went to assist the conductor until the firearm was in his possession,” testified Goba.

Luthuli then escaped through the driver’s window, the court heard. He had been stabbed on the chin. Luthuli’s legal representative said he was acting in self-defence when he shot the driver.

“He would tell the court that it was the driver who produced the firearm. The deceased demanded money from the accused. That money related to an incident which occured in Pinetown,” said Luthuli’s lawyer.

Msomi denied that the deceased had been carrying a firearm that Saturday afternoon.

Luthuli was arrested on the same day at a nearby clinic where he was being treated for the injuries he got during the struggle with the passengers over the firearm.

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