Andre Slade

Slade told The Sunday Times he shot and killed his neighbour, Siyabonga Nsele, after he caught the 26-year-old trying to steal a bottle of wine and some cheese and eggs, and that he was not sorry.

“The Bible says to us… if he comes into your house at night you may kill him, no matter if he is white or black,” he was reported as saying.

But senior researcher with the Institute for Security Studies, Johan Burger, said on Monday: “You can’t just kill someone for simple theft.”

Looking at South African law and what it said about the use of deadly force, Burger said you might be entitled to shoot someone if you had effected a citizen’s arrest and while you were waiting for police to arrive, he or she attacked you.

“Or if you were worried that he or she might escape and later commit a serious violent crime, you might be entitled to shoot them,” he said, “But if it’s only about theft – that is not enough justification.”

He said South African law did allow for the use of deadly force in self-defence.

“But only if that person poses a direct physical threat of serious bodily injury to you or someone else in your presence,” he said. “And there must not be any other escape available to you.”

Burger said none of the existing legal defences in South African law seemed to justify Slade – according to his own version – having shot Nsele.

Despite admitting to the Sunday Times that he shot and killed Nsele, Slade told the paper that he had not been charged.

Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala on Sunday confirmed to The Mercury that the investigation into Nsele’s death was continuing.

Pressed for more clarity, she yesterday said the complainant had “fired a warning shot to stop the suspect from stealing, but he continued”.

“Another shot was fired and the suspect sustained a gunshot wound to the head. He was taken to hospital for medical attention, where he later died,” Gwala said.

She said that once Nsele’s murder docket was complete, it would be taken to court for a decision.

But Burger said on Monday that there appeared to be more than enough reason to arrest Slade.

“The police can always – and this is what usually happens if there are still investigations outstanding – arrest him and let him apply for bail,” he said.

Burger said whether or not Slade would get bail depended on a range of issues, but if he did, police could conclude their investigations and get hold of any outstanding evidence – in terms of forensic tests and the likes – during this time.

“If there is already prima facie evidence – for example, in this person’s case, his own evidence and, most likely, witnesses – that in itself is enough grounds for an arrest,” Burger said.

The Mercury