Cemetery killing: teen gets 40 years

2009-01-25 00:00

A 19-year-old, Fani Delani Dlamini, was jailed for an effective 40 years by a high court judge in Pietermaritzburg for his role in murdering a couple at Azalea Cemetery on April 21, 2007.

The couple were assaulted and chopped to death with a bush knife

Sentencing Dlamini, acting Judge Nompumelelo Radebe, with two assessors, found there were substantial and compelling circumstances that justified the imposition of a sentence lighter than life imprisonment on Dlamini for the murders of a pregnant woman, Thabisile Cynthia Mkhize, and Mbhekeni Michael Zuma.

She sentenced him to 20 years’ imprisonment in respect of each of the murders and ordered that he should not be considered for parole until he has served two-thirds of his total sentence.

A mitigating factor in Dlamini’s favour was the fact that the court found he was influenced by an older person, Mhlonipheni Ngubane (25), his cousin, who was sentenced to two life terms last year for the same murders.

Dlamini claimed he took part in the murders only because he was ordered to do so by Ngubane, and claimed he was under the influence of alcohol.

But acting Judge Radebe said that if he had been heavily intoxicated, he would not have had the energy to drag the two victims from their home to the cemetery where they were murdered. She also said it would not be possible for a very drunk person to have “butchered” the victims as the couple had been.

The photographs of the murder scene showed the killings were merciless, Radebe said.

According to the state’s indictment, Thabisile Mkhize had previously been involved in a relationship with Dlamini’s cousin. On the day in question, Dlamini and Ngubane had gone to her home armed with a bush knife and discovered Zuma visiting her.

An altercation arose, as a result of which both Mkhize and Zuma were injured.

The two assailants decided to kill them, and removed them to Azalea Cemetery where their feet and hands were bound and mouths were gagged.

The attackers took turns to strike them with the bush knife, killing them.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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