Taximan’s hired killer jailed

2008-07-21 00:00

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Anton van Zyl yesterday sentenced a paid assassin to 27 years’ imprisonment for the execution-style murder of a Vryheid taxi driver.

Bhekani Buthelezi (32) of Nongoma pleaded guilty to the murder of Wilfred Khoza and described in a statement how he shot him in the head from behind with a 9 mm pistol after he and an accomplice boarded his taxi on August 25 last year. He was paid R6 000.

Buthelezi said he agreed to the murder because he was unemployed.

Judge van Zyl said Khoza was murdered without even being given the opportunity of knowing why he was killed.

He said that although there was no evidence before the court about the details of the victim’s life, he was gainfully employed and no doubt had loved ones and dependants.

The judge said there was “some merit” in a submission by Buthelezi’s legal aid lawyer, Divesh Mootheram, that a person who is unemployed is more tempted by the offer of money than a person in more affluent circumstances who seeks money out of greed.

The court found there were circumstances that justified less than life imprisonment in that he appeared to show “genuine remorse” after his arrest by co-operating with the police and pleading guilty, even though there was not an overwhelming case against him.

State advocate Sipho Magwaza conceded it was doubtful that Buthelezi would have been convicted if he had not confessed to the crime.

He said the prosecution intends to use Buthelezi as a witness against the man who hired him and his accomplice.

The two men were named by Buthelezi in his statement to court, but police asked the media to withhold their identities pending their arrest.

Magwaza urged the court not to lose sight of the fact that Khoza’s murder was planned and said taxi drivers are particularly vulnerable to attack.

He said the motive for the murder could be either “taxi-related or love-related”, as the man who hired him owns a taxi, but there is also information that Khoza “fell in love” with the man’s girlfriend.

ingrido@witness. co.za

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