DNA link puts killer in jail for life

2010-03-05 00:00

A CIGARETTE butt thrown down at the body of a murdered woman and the murder weapon still in the belt of the killer arrested in a tavern were clues that ensured the conviction of, and life sentence for, a Cato Ridge killer yesterday.

Judge Gregory Kruger said in the high court in Pietermaritzburg that Muzikanyise Luthuli (28) could offer no explanation why the cigarette butt, which had on it some of his DNA, was found near the body of Nikwepo Mchunu (50).

The bullets that killed Mchunu were fired by the 9mm pistol that Luthuli had in his belt when arrested.

Luthuli fired eight shots, hitting her seven times. The pistol’s magazine can hold eight cartridges, which showed that he emptied the gun at her.

Gunpowder tattoos on her face showed that he shot her from close.

A witness testified that he drove Luthuli to a spot near the victim’s home at the time of the shooting.

The serial numbers of the gun he used had been erased, which made it a more serious offence. He has a previous conviction of unlawful possession of a firearm for which he was sentenced to 18 months’ jail, half suspended.

State advocate Candy Kander said it was a brutal and ruthless attack on a defenceless woman in the presence of her family, including young children. Two young children have been put in the care of a children’s home.

Luthuli showed no remorse in the face of overwhelming evidence against him. This lack of contrition shows that he deserves imprisonment for life, Kander said.

The state alleged that Luthuli killed Mchunu because she would not withdraw a charge that a relative of Luthuli had raped her daughter.

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