Man who killed for a DVD player sentenced to life

2008-05-27 00:00

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Kate Pillay sentenced a 27-year-old man, Mlungisi Ngubane, to life plus 15 years’ imprisonment here yesterday for the "callous and heinous" murder of a 71-year-old woman in the Pietermaritzburg area on August 7 last year.

"That a picture paints a thousand words cannot be more true when one has sight of the photo album, in this case depicting the deceased after this brutal killing," the judge said.

She said words could not describe the trauma and indignity the elderly victim — Nomalanga Lena Gcabashe — suffered in the last moments of her life. She was severely assaulted and in the photographs her face appeared completely "mangled".

"This is another statistic in the senseless killings that occur with such regularity in this country … where people show such blatant disregard for the sanctity of human life," Pillay said.

Earlier, state advocate Maggie Mahuma had urged the court to send a "loud and clear message" to society that courts will uphold the right to life, especially now when South Africa is engulfed in violence.

She said elderly people living alone are no longer safe and attacks on them are on the increase.

Pleading guilty to Gcabashe’s robbery and murder, Ngubane said he had been drinking with friends on the night in question. Later, when he passed Gcabashe’s home, he decided to break in and steal her DVD player.

He put his hands through a broken window pane and entered via the window. While removing the DVD, he knocked over a radio and speaker, which alerted Gcabashe to his presence. She yelled out and grabbed hold of him.

"I noticed a bush knife, which I took possession of and struck the deceased twice on her head with it. She then fell to the floor," he said.

Ngubane said he took the DVD player and fled.

A postmortem report revealed that Gcabashe suffered head injuries, including a fractured skull, and fractured ribs.

Judge Pillay said the murder illustrated that the value of life was "as cheap as a DVD machine".

That was all Ngubane had wanted, but he ended up taking Gcabashe’s life.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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