A man who was accused of killing eight people in Richmond was acquitted by the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Thursday.
Sphumelele Jama (29) from the Silahla area, in Richmond, faced twelve charges; eight of murder, two for attempted murder, one for possession of an unlawful firearm and one for possession of unlawful ammunition.
The dead are, Sihle Brian Mdunge, Mxolisi Lamula, Siyabonga Zamo Shange, Sihle Zama Mbambo, Lindelani Nzimande, Mohamed Omari, Thandiwe Mchunu and Philasande Mtolo.
Olwethu Mntungwa and Asanda Wilfred Phungula were injured and rushed to hospital, where they later recovered.
According to the indictment, the incident took place on January 14, 2022, in the Esigcekeni area, Richmond.
Sihle Mambo, one of the dead, was a member of a rival gang, and all the other people were at his house on the day of the incident.
It was alleged that Jama and his accomplices received information that Mbambo was planning to kill them as they were members of a rival gang.
They allegedly planned to kill Mbambo before he could attack them.
They armed themselves with firearms and proceeded to Mbambo’s home.
On arrival they opened fire, killing eight people.
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Judge Kate Pillay said the state failed to prove its case against Jama.
She said the evidence of ballistic reports does not prove that Jama was the killer.
There were a number of firearms and ammunition that were examined but it does not prove that the accused is the one who fired the shots. The state had to prove without reasonable doubt that he was, indeed, involved.
“Throughout the trial, the accused has been consistent in denying that the firearm found by the police was his,” she said.
She also added that there were contradictions in some of the evidence by two police officers who were called to testify.