Jeffrey Cansanay associate of the African Mafia
Gang member blames drugs for failed memory
Called to testify for 3rd time, Mike Ndlovu no longer can remember
Last Updated: Monday, March 22, 2010 | 4:07 PM CT
By James Turner, CBC News
Jeff Cansanay, 24, is charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Phil Haiart. (Winnipeg police)
A Winnipeg street gang member says he no longer remembers the events and details of a bitter gang dispute that led up to the shooting of innocent bystander Phil Haiart.
Michael Ndlovu was called by the Crown to testify on Monday at the second-degree murder trial of Jeffrey Cansanay.
Cansanay, 24, is accused of shooting and killing Haiart, 17, on Oct. 10, 2005 while allegedly aiming at rival gang members in the city’s West End. Haiart was just walking by the scene when he was shot in the abdomen and died.
‘It’s the drugs, maybe?’
Cansanay is also charged with attempted murder of three other people, two of them members of the Mad Cowz street gang. Those charges also stem from the same incident.
Jurors heard on Monday that Ndlovu is a member of the Mad Cowz and allegedly has personal knowledge of a bitter inter-gang dispute leading to a series of violent incidents prior to the shooting of Haiart near a crackhouse at 606 McGee Street.
The Crown alleges the gang was in a dispute over drug turf with rivals Cansanay and Corey Spence, who were associates of the African Mafia, a disaffected splinter group of the Mad Cowz.
Jurors heard Ndlovu had previously testified in prior trials involving Cansanay and Spence.
But on Monday, Ndlovu told court he didn’t remember testifying previously, nor any events leading up to the shooting hours before it happened.
In an attempt to refresh Ndlovu’s memory, Crown attorney Gerry Bowering read him portions of a statement he had given to police one day after the shooting.
In his statement, Ndlovu told police he had been summoned to a crackhouse at 606 McGee Street in Winnipeg hours prior to the fatal shooting of Haiart.
On arrival, he told police he had been confronted and shot at by Cansanay at the behest of Spence.
However, Ndlovu testified he doesn’t remember anything that happened.
“If I could remember, I’d let you know,” Ndlovu said.
Asked how he could forget being the target of gun violence, Ndlovu said many years of drug abuse could be affecting his memory.
“It’s the drugs, maybe?,” he said.
Bowering challenged Ndlovu’s claims of memory loss and said he was reluctant to say what happened because he would be labeled a “rat.”
With a simple “no,” Ndlovu denied this.
Fear led to silence: gang member
Last week, Gharib Abdullah, a 22-year-old Mad Cowz member testified for the first time in any proceeding regarding the allegations against Cansanay or Spence.
Jurors heard Abdullah was convicted of contempt of court and handed a three-year prison term for his refusal to testify in past hearings. He is currently out on parole from that sentence.
Abdullah maintained his refusal to implicate either Spence or Cansanay back then had to do with his being in jail at the time he was called by the Crown to testify. He was concerned for the safety of himself and his family, he said.
“Put yourself in my situation — If you were a rat, what do you think [other inmates] they’re going to do to you — just say ‘hi?,'” he said.
“They’re going to kill you.”
“I didn’t want to do it ‘cuz I was in jail … they’re gonna hurt me,” Abdullah said. He claims to have disavowed the gang lifestyle.
Cansanay’s trial is slated to continue over the next seven weeks.