Nigerians in South Africa and abroad were rejoicing on Monday, 4 December, after they heard the news that Umbilo police officer, Constable Austin Reynold, 24, was jailed for 30 years by the Durban High Court for the murder of a Nigerian man, Emeka Okori.
He received a jail term of 25 years for murder and 15 years for robbery. Nigerians have been following the case since January last year, after their fellow brother was shot dead at his residence by Reynold who was one of his clients. Okori (known as Frank) was allegedly a drug dealer operating in the Umbilo area.
According to provincial chair of Nigeria Citizens Association in South Africa, Barthelomew Eziagulu, more investigations needed to be done after it emerged that another Nigerain national who was a witness in the case, had gone missing.
Eziagulu said “We are appealing to the police to investigate this because we fear that the worst has happened to him. We have looked everywhere without success.” Its alleged that on the day of the murder, Reynold and his friend purchased drugs from Frank. However, the accused shot him when a fight ensued. It is also alleged that Reynold had a charge for corruption and had a previous conviction where he was sentenced to a 10 year term, after he took a bribe from a motorist in June last year. It is unclear whether Reynold had appealed that conviction and sentence to a higher court.
Reynold testified that he and his friend went to a garage to withdraw cash to pay Frank and, when they returned, the friend went inside to pay him. He said he heard his friend calling out for help and when he went to check what had happened, he found that Frank and another man had him (the friend) pinned down. He added that he pulled his fire arm out and put it away again with the aim to cuff the deceased, however, Frank fought back resulting in his friend taking the gun and hitting Frank on the head, which triggered the shot that wounded Frank on the head. His friend however disputed the chain of events as described by the former policeman. He said he was unarmed and that Reynold had pulled the trigger.