The Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday freed one of the four men accused of the murder of Mozambican national Emmanuel Josias Sithole.
Sithole was killed on April 18 this year after demanding money from the accused‚ who had taken cigarettes and sweets from his stall without paying.
The attack‚ which happened during a flare-up of xenophobic violence in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township‚ was captured by Sunday Times lensman James Oatway and published on the newspaper’s front page.
Mthinto Bhengu‚ 22‚ Sizwe Mngomezulu‚ 20‚ Sifundo Mzimela‚ 21‚ and a minor all pleaded not guilty to robbing and murdering Sithole.
After the prosecution closed its case on Wednesday‚ Mngomezulu’s lawyer‚ Vhonani Matshidza‚ applied for his client to be discharged‚ arguing that Mngomezulu was a mere bystander and had not actively participated in the attack on Sithole.
Matshidza argued that the fact that a person is present at a scene does not mean they share a common purpose with others present.
Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff agreed and ruled that the state had failed to prove that Mngomezulu had a case to answer.
“If he merely stood there‚ that could not be reason to say he had a common purpose.
“Accused two [Mngomezulu] was not in a great hurry to reach the scene. In fact he got there when the stabbing had taken place.”
He said it was possible that Mngomezulu was telling the other accused to go away after they had attacked Sithole.
Van der Schyff said even state witnesses had testified that they did not see Mngomezulu do anything to Sithole.
The trial of Bhengu‚ Mzimela and the minor continues.
Source: TMG Courts and Law