Twenty four year old Police Constable Austine Reynold was found guilty of robbery and murder in the Durban High Court last Friday. He was sentenced to 15 and 25 years for each of the crimes respectively. However 10 years of the robbery sentence will run concurrently, effectively making his sentence 30 years.
The crimes were committed last year in January when Reynold robbed and killed a Nigerian man at a house in Umbilo. He was known only as “Frank” and was allegedly a drug dealer, selling drugs to Reynold and his friend Brindley Barlow. Barlow, who turned state witness and was indemnified from prosecution for his testimony, testified against Reynold saying that although he knew they were going to the house to buy drugs, he was shocked by how events turned out.
The shot that killed Frank was fired in error when Reynold struck him on the back of his head. Judge Shyam Gyanda said that even though it did not appear that Reynold had killed Frank intentionally, his death was still the result of gross negligence.
Despite the fact that Reynold had a previous conviction for corruption in 2016, an uncle and a friend were shocked to find out that he had been accused of murder. They describe him as non-violent and law-abiding.
The state advocate, Krishen Shah said Reynold lived beyond his means and that he was robbing people in order to support a lifestyle he could not afford.
In the meantime, a Nigerian national who was supposed to give evidence in the trial had disappeared and Barthelomew Eziagulu, provincial chairperson of the Nigeria Citizens Association in South Africa said they were extremely worried about him.