A former inspector in the SA Police Services — who is in a wheelchair following an incident three years ago in which he is alleged to have shot dead his common-law wife before turning the gun on himself — is on trial in the high court in Pietermaritzburg.
Sipho Dennis Shabalala (40) of Imbali has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Sindi Mary Cele (42) at Imbali on November 29, 2005.
The court was told that Shabalala’s defence is based on the fact that he has an incomplete recollection of events on the day in question prior to waking up in hospital.
The state alleges that on the day in question, Shabalala and Cele had an argument, and that he sent their son out of the house and then shot Cele several times in the bedroom, before turning the gun on himself, shooting himself in the forehead.
Sergeant Rajeer Surajbally, a former colleague of Shabalala at Plessislaer, said he was called to the scene. He found Shabalala lying in the doorway of a bedroom still alive, while Cele’s body lay inside the room covered in blood.
He recovered a police-issue firearm and a holster at the scene.
Cele’s son, Sibusiso (25), said Shabalala and his mother had lived together for a number of years and their relationship appeared to be good. He was also on good terms with Shabalala, he said.
He testified that at about 5 am on the day, Shabalala arrived at their home, where family members ran a tavern.
He said Shabalala bought four quarts of beer, two of which they shared, along with a friend who joined them for just one glassful.
Later that morning, Shabalala approached his mother, who was in the tuck shop, and he heard him ask her for a “whole case” of beer and indicate that he would pay for it at the end of the month.
“There was an argument because [Cele] was not prepared to give him a case of beers … They were speaking loudly,” he said.
He heard his mother ask Shabalala why he was drinking when he was supposed to go to work, he added.
Sibusiso said when Shabalala returned he asked him to go to a friend by the name of Khuboni, and ask him for R100. He was “reluctant”, but after Shabalala insisted, he agreed.
He did not get any money. As he returned home, he met a person who appeared “frightened” and told him to rush home as his mother and Shabalala were fighting. He arrived to find them both shot.