Teacher’s schoolboy killers get 20 years

2009-06-30 00:00

TWO young men were jailed for 20 years each in the high court in Pietermaritzburg yesterday for the “vicious” murder of a Hibberdene school teacher, Cynthia Nxele, earlier this year.

The killers confessed they were hired to kill Nxele by a woman who suspected her of having an affair with her husband. The woman allegedly promised to pay them R50 000, but they were arrested before they received any money.

At the time of the murder, on February 25 this year, one of the killers, Ntokozo Mthembu, was 25 days short of celebrating his 18th birthday, and his cousin, Ntokozisi Bhengu, was 19 years old. Both were in grade 10 at school.

A probation officer who investigated the background of the youths found they had a “normal” family life and upbringing.

Acting Judge Rose Mogwera, who sentenced them yesterday, said the court does not want to send out the “wrong message” that their actions are condoned because they are young, but she could not overlook the fact that they were easily influenced to do something wrong because of their youth.

Another reason courts are more lenient towards young offenders is that there is a greater prospect of rehabilitation, she aded.

On the other hand, Mogwera said, such offences are prevalent and on the rise. She also had regard to the brutality of the murder.

The postmortem findings revealed that all the arteries and blood vessels in the victim’s neck were severed in the attack.

The judge said the fact that the youths were prepared to accept money in exchange for a human life was aggravating, as well as the fact that their motive was greed.

She said Nxele had obviously trusted them and because of that they had been able to deceive her and lure her to an isolated place where they attacked her.

They had not shown her any mercy, she added.

The court was told that Nxele had been supporting an extended family of six people and that her eldest child is now struggling to keep the family going.

The accused were both known to her as they lived in the same neighbourhood. She taught one of the youths and the other went to her church.

In statements to the court, the youths said they had arranged for Nxele to accompany them to an isolated forested area on the pretext of selling her cheap petrol.

After she had stopped her car, Mthembu suddenly produced a knife and stabbed her in the neck. Bhengu, who had alighted, came to the driver’s window and stabbed her in the chest several times with a screwdriver until she appeared to be dead.

They loaded her body into the boot and drove off with her car, but a short distance away, an anti-hijacking device was activated and the vehicle came to a stop. When they failed to re-start it, they abandoned it with her body.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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