Page last updated at 16:51 GMT, Friday, 27 March 2009

Lucky Dube death verdict delayed

Lucky Dube
Lucky Dube was an internationally recognised reggae star

The Johannesburg High Court has delayed the verdict in the trial of three men accused of killing South African reggae singer Lucky Dube.

One of the men recently confessed he had taken part in the crime and said all three deserved to be punished. They had originally denied murder.

The 2007 killing of Dube, during a carjacking in a Johannesburg suburb, shocked the country.

The judge said he hoped the judgement would be concluded on Monday.

The Sapa news agency reports that the courtroom was packed with members of the public, including Dube's widow and son, as the judge started to deliver his decision on Friday.

Judge Seun Moshidi did say that one of the accused, Julius Gxowa, had not been an impressive witness.

Dube was South Africa's best-selling reggae artist.

He recorded 22 albums in Zulu, English and Afrikaans during his 25-year career.

On Tuesday, the judge in charge of the case said the court had no evidence that Dube had been specifically targeted.

The court heard that the three men did not know the identity of their alleged victim until they read about it in the newspapers the following day.

At the start of their trial in February, Julius Xowa, Sfiso Mhlanga and Thabiso Maroping also denied unlawful possession of firearms and attempted hijacking.

Death penalty calls

Four suspects were initially taken into custody, but one was later released under the instruction of the directorate of public prosecutions.

Dube was shot dead in front of his son and daughter in Rosettenville, a suburb south of central 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.

The BBC's Mpho Lakaje in Johannesburg says South Africa's international image has been tarnished by its alarming crime levels.

Nearly 19,000 people were murdered last year, according to official statistics.

Millions of visitors are expected for next year's football World Cup.

Lucky Dube began his career by singing mbaqanga (traditional Zulu) music and recorded his first album with the Super Soul band in 1982.

He later moved into reggae, producing Rastas Never Die, which was banned by the apartheid government.

His albums Slave, Prisoner and Together As One won him global recognition.

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