Cape Town law enforcement officer found not guilty of murder of homeless man

Court finds Luvolwethu Kati acted in self-defence

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The Wynberg Magistrate’s Court has acquitted Cape Town law enforcement officer Luvolwethu Kati (centre) of the murder of Dumisani Joxo, a homeless man. Archived photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • On Wednesday, a Cape Town law enforcement officer was found not guilty of murder of a homeless man last year.
  • The officer, Luvolwethu Kati, shot and killed Dumisani Joxo in Rondebosch in January 2022 after a fight broke out.
  • The magistrate found that Kati had acted in self-defence when he shot Joxo.

Luvolwethu Kati, a Cape Town law enforcement officer who shot and killed a homeless man in Rondebosch in January last year, has been absolved of murder.

On Wednesday, a visibly anxious Kati entered the dock at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court to hear his fate.

He was accused of murder for shooting dead Dumisani Joxo. Kati pleaded not guilty. In his testimony, Kati said he acted in self-defence.

The state called five witnesses to the stand: resident Linda Mbuqe; Joxo’s partner, Christin Coleridge; her son, Dylan-Leigh Coleridge; metro police officer, Craig Gillion; and Kati’s colleague Unathi Govuza. They were all present at the shooting.

According to the witnesses, Mbuqe was cooking pap in a pot over a fire when Kati and his colleague, Govuza arrived. Kati kicked over the pot and an argument ensued between him and Mbuqe.

Mbuqe then grabbed a pickaxe handle and approached Kati who started retreating. Govuza then tried to diffuse the situation by standing between Mbuqe and Kati. Her attempts, however, were unsuccessful as Mbuqe broke free from her hold and approached Kati.

At this stage, Joxo came out of his tent and approached Kati. According to Kati, he continuously warned the pair not to approach him but to no avail. Mbuqe and Joxo also threatened to take Kati’s firearm. The exchange became heated between Joxo, Mbuqe and Kati and at some point, the gun went off, killing Joxo.

Reading out her judgment, Magistrate Heather Paulse said that the witness testimonies showed that Mbuqe and Joxo were “undeterred by the accused’s warnings”.

While Joxo argued and swore at Kati, Mbuqe “made a movement” towards Kati which appeared as if he was trying to disarm him, Paulse said.

“During the altercation, Mbuqe somehow moved to the side and at that same time, Kati discharged his firearm.” Mbuqe then threw the pickaxe aside and fled the scene before police and paramedics arrived.

Paulse said that the testimonies of Kati’s colleague and metro police officer was “free of any material contradictions” and that the court “can rely that their testimony was the truth and should be believed”.

She said Govuza’s evidence corroborated that of Kati’s version of events and “bolsters its reliance on self-defence”.

“The other state witnesses,” Paulse said, “testified with great drama and their evidence is riddled with contradictions both from their own evidence and the evidence of each other”.

“What is common from the witnesses is important: Dylan, Christin and Mbuqe all testified that Mbuqe was the cause of the events that unfolded that day.”

Paulse also found that Joxo was armed with a knife when he approached Kati. She added that the evidence suggested that Mbuqe intended to disarm Kati when he approached him.

Paulse said the state’s witnesses corroborated the circumstances under which it was necessary for Kati to discharge his firearm.

“It’s clear that it was necessary for him to fire the shot in order to overt the attack on him and his partner’s life. Firstly, his partner was also unarmed and secondly, despite taking a step back to retreat, two attackers advanced on him and both had weapons,” she said.

She said Kati’s response under the circumstances “was reasonable”.

Kati was acquitted of Joxo’s murder.

As Paulse read out the final verdict, Kati took a deep breath in the dock. Outside court, a visibly tearful Kati told GroundUp, “I don’t know how to feel”.

TOPICS:  Crime

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