He kissed his wife in disbelief in court

Khanyisile Nkosi

Khanyisile Nkosi

"At long last."

These were the first words Edward Kekana uttered to his wife, Lizzy, shortly after he was declared a free man in the Johannesburg high court yesterday.

He hugged and kissed her in court 2F shortly after judge George Maluleke acquitted him on three charges of murder and two of attempted murder.

Kekana, 36, of Sophiatown was on trial for the murder of Jan Daniel Verster, Anthony William Vicente and France Makhale Chiloane who were killed outside his sister's house in Unigray, south of Johannesburg, on July 31 2004. Two of their relatives were wounded.

That night, Kekana had gone to Unigray to drop off his sister and her three-year-old twins when six men - five white men and a black man - suddenly stopped behind his car and accused him of bad driving.

The men had followed him to his sister's residence.

Kekana testified that the gang assaulted him and his brother-in-law, Richard Moremi.

He said he became frightened and locked himself inside the car when the gang surrounded his vehicle.

Thinking they were going to kill him, he reached for his firearm and fired a shot.

Judge Maluleke yesterday accepted Kekana's evidence as the truth.

"It is clear that the accused and his brother-in-law were innocent victims of an unlawful violent attack by six drunken men outside their own home," he said.

The judge also accepted the evidence of Joseph Kruger, a Johannesburg metro police officer, who testified that the gang had also attacked him six years ago.

He said the three state witnesses, survivors of the shooting, were "untruthful" witnesses and contradicted themselves "clearly" to cover up real facts.

He said the gang's violent conduct was aggravated by their high consumption of alcohol.

A specimen taken from Verster, who led the gang, showed that he had 0.16g of alcohol in his blood - which was double the limit.