Officer testifies why he shot homeless man

“I believed they were going to injure me, take my gun and shoot me”

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Judgment in the murder trial of a Cape Town law enforcement officer is expected on 18 October in the Wynberg Regional Court. Archive photo: Ashraf Hendricks

  • Judgment in the murder trial of a Cape Town law enforcement officer is expected on 18 October.
  • The officer, Luvolwethu Kati, shot and killed Dumisani Joxo, who was homeless, in Rondebosch in January 2022.
  • On Wednesday Kati testified at the Wynberg Regional Court that he had acted in self-defence.

Cape Town law enforcement officer Luvolwethu Kati, 25, will learn his fate next month when judgment is handed down in his murder trial at the Wynberg Regional Court.

He is facing a murder charge for shooting dead Dumisani Joxo, who was homeless, in Rondebosch last year.

On Wednesday, metro police officer Craig Gillion was the final state witness to testify. He said he was on duty the day of the incident and was called to the shooting scene by the control room. Upon arrival, he met with a Rondebosch SAPS sergeant who identified Kati as the shooter.

Gillion said Kati was “still in shock” and in possession of his firearm. He removed the gun from Kati’s holster, removed ammunition, placed it in a forensic bag, and handed it to the sergeant. Kati was then arrested.

Prosecutor Ebrahim Arend told the court there were no further state witnesses.

Kati’s lawyer, John Riley, then submitted an application for the discharge of the accused citing Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act. The section says the court may return a verdict of not guilty if at the end of a trial there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence they are charged with.

Riley argued that “the other testimonies” from witnesses Linda Mbuqe, Christin Coleridge, and her son, Dylan-Leigh Coleridge, were of “extremely poor quality” and “had conflicting versions”.

“The essential narrative portrayed here, but also contradicting in the evidence of the state witnesses, is that the deceased played a very passive role in this matter,” he said.

Magistrate Heather Paulse acknowledged that there were contradictions between the state’s case and Kati’s version of events.

However, Paulse said, the accused had not denied that he fired the shot while on duty and that it was caused by an altercation. Paulse refused Riley’s application.

“There is evidence before this court that calls for the accused to present his version under oath,” said Paulse.

Kati then took the stand. He said that when he and his colleague Unathi Govuza arrived at the scene, he asked Mbuqe to extinguish a fire. “He answered rudely asking, ‘Who are you to come and tell me to extinguish this fire? Can’t you see I’m cooking?’”

Kati said there were papers scattered around the fire, and he told Mbuqe the fire was unsafe.

Kati said that Mbuqe replied, “Why are you worried? Why are you giving orders? You don’t even stay here?”

“I noticed Linda [Mbuqe] was becoming aggressive towards me and didn’t want to extinguish the fire. So I told him if you don’t want to then I will.”

He then pushed aside one of the stones balancing the pot with his boot. The pot “lost its balance and the lid moved and I could see there was brown water in it”.

Kati said that Mbuqe then picked up a pickaxe and “rushed” towards him and started swearing. “I said don’t fight or argue with me; I’m just here regarding a complaint. Then he said to me I’m cocky and called me a lighty.”

Kati said he asked Mbuqe to stop approaching him but to no avail.

“That’s when I pulled out the firearm and put it on my chest. The barrel was facing down.”

Govuza then intervened by standing in between him and Mbuqe and asked Mbuqe to calm down, said Kati.

Kati said he continued moving backwards and saw Joxo coming out from a tent and walking towards him.

“Dumisani said nothing, he just came towards me. He asked me, ‘Why would you pull a gun out at my brother?’ I said he was the one who pulled a weapon out at me. I’m not here to fight, I’m just here for a complaint,” Kati testified.

Joxo told him that he “wasn’t afraid of the firearm”.

Kati continued moving backwards. Mbuqe then broke loose from Govuza.

“Linda and Dumisani then rushed towards me. I noticed Dumisani had his left hand behind his back and Linda still had the [pickaxe] pole. As I was going backwards I noticed I had reached the railway fence.”

Kati said he then realised he was cornered. He continued asking them to “put their weapons down” and “step back”, but they did not.

“Dumisani tried to grab me on my left. As he was trying to grab me, Linda was coming with the pole, but he was holding it higher. I moved and leaned back. Then I shot,” said Kati.

Riley asked Kati what he thought would happen when Joxo and Mbuqe approached him.

“I believed they were going to take the firearm and that Dumisani had a weapon. I believed they were going to injure me, take my gun and shoot me,” he said.

In closing arguments, Arend said the court needs to consider the gravity of the matter. “Life was taken.”

“Rules and regulations are in place to make life equitable and peaceful for everyone. The moment people don’t comply with those, it causes havoc.”

Arend said law and order are there to promote peace. He said the accused was a law enforcement officer. “His job is to enforce the law that is there for everyone’s wellbeing. It is not a situation where he can act out of that spectrum. That leaves the court with the question: Did Mr Kati overstep the boundaries of his mandate as a law enforcement officer?”

In closing, Riley told the court: “If the evidence is viewed holistically, the court is not in a position to find that the state has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt”. He asked that Kati be acquitted of the murder charge.

Paulse reserved judgment and said it would be handed down on 18 October.

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