Monday, February 2, 2009
Three men have denied at the high court in Johannesburg murdering the internationally-acclaimed South African reggae star Lucky Dube
Julius Xowa, Sfiso Mhlanga and Thabiso Maroping also deny unlawful possession of firearms and attempted hijacking. The shooting of the 43-year-old musician outside his brother's house in Johannesburg in October 2007 shocked the country. Lucky Dube's family and friends were in court for the opening of the trial. The accused - all in their early 30s - were denied bail when they appeared in court in November 2008. It emerged at the time that one of the suspects had been out on bail on a separate charge when he allegedly took part in the murder of the reggae star. This angered opposition parties and members of the public who questioned the country's judicial system. But police were praised for making quick arrests. Four suspects were initially taken into custody, but one was later released under the instruction of the directorate of public prosecutions. Lucky Dube was shot dead in front of his son and daughter in Rosettenville, a southern suburb of downtown Johannesburg. The killing led to renewed domestic calls for the restoration of the death penalty in a bid to stem one of the world's highest murder rates. South Africa's international image has been tarnished by its alarming crime levels. Nearly 19,000 people were murdered in 2008, according to official statistics.