The court said Ebrahim satisfied the requirements of self-defence.
A motorist who shot three would-be hijackers in Johannesburg acted in self-defence, and is not guilty of murder, the South Gauteng High Court ruled this week.
The state charged that Muhammed Ebrahim used excessive force when confronted by armed men on an afternoon in Fordsburg, Johannesburg.
Ebrahim and his cousin were driving to a shop to buy hunting clothing and equipment along Mint Road when the incident happened.
According to the evidence before court, the two were first approached by an armed man from the Golf GTI, who was wearing a balaclava and blue overalls. Ebrahim and his cousin were also armed.
The court heard that as the two got out after parking the car, three people travelling in a VW Golf GTI abruptly stopped in front of them. One got out and produced a gun, pointing it at their sedan.
“The accused testified that he then heard gunshots and did not know where the shooter was. He drew his firearm, peered from the back and saw his cousin Mr Essau back-peddling, shouting ‘shoot, shoot!’”
Bodies in the street
The two fired in the direction of the Golf. As gunfire was exchanged, two more people emerged from the vehicle, and by that time, Ebrahim had taken cover across the street, where he continued to shoot in their direction.
Ebrahim told the court that he had to shoot to save his life and that of his cousin, further accepting that innocent bystanders could have been injured or killed.
After the gunfire stopped, he said he looked for his cousin and saw people lying motionless in the street, including the man in blue overalls.
The cousin was unharmed.
State witnesses ‘unreliable’
In his ruling, the judge said Ebrahim was steadfast in his testimony and during cross-examination by the state.
He added that the state’s eye witnesses’ testimonies were unreliable, had discrepancies and could not be relied on while Ebrahim was forthcoming in his testimony.
“I am of the view that his testimony that him and Mr Essau found themselves in a hijacking situation is true because why would gunfire ensue shortly after the Golf stopped and the man in a blue overall alighted?
“Furthermore, during the cross-examination of Captain Shingange, it was revealed that the Golf was linked to a Langlaagte case through its chassis number which correlated with the Golf at this particular crime scene.
“It is my view that no other inference could be drawn from these facts but that the persons in the Golf were coming to hijack the accused and Mr Essau,” read the judgment.
Furthermore, said the judge, the state’s evidence failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
He said Ebrahim fulfilled the requirements of self-defence and found him not guilty on all three murder charges.