Verdict in polo star’s murder

2012-09-07 00:00

SENTENCE is to be passed in the high court in Pietermaritzburg today on the killer of rising South African polo star Sibusiso Duma (25).

His sister, Sthembile, told the court yesterday that her brother would have flown out to the United Kingdom a week before he was killed, but his visa had been delayed. He was due to settle in the UK.

Duma had the honour of being the first black South Africa international polo player, the court heard.

Mchunu was found guilty yesterday of having sought out and stabbed Duma to death out of jealousy on May 1 this year, shortly after he had confronted his girlfriend, Smangele Sondeza, over “love messages” on her cellphone.

Judge Kevin Swain, sitting with an assessor, also found Mchunu guilty of “deliberately” stabbing Sondeza once in the back with a knife during his altercation with her.

The court rejected ­Mchunu’s version that Sondeza was the one who had produced the knife and that the stabbing occurred accidentally.

Swain said Duma’s murder had to be considered in the context of Mchunu’s attempted murder of Sondeza.

He said one of two eyewitnesses to the murder, Lindelani Hlela, had been walking with Duma when Mchunu came up behind them and stabbed Duma in his chest with an Okapi knife.

Hlela testified that he cried out and tried to stop Mchunu and told him not to injure Duma, but Mchunu responded that he should leave him alone.

Mchunu chased him away.

“Lindelani saw the accused go back to the deceased who was seated on the ground and saw him stab the deceased on the left cheek,” the judge said.

Lindelani told the court that Duma tried to get up and was stabbed three or four more times.

Testifying in aggravation of sentence, Duma’s sister, Sthembile said her brother’s death has left an emotional and financial void in their family.

She described how he had started to ride horses at the age of nine years old on the Lidgetton farm where their father was employed as a groom.

“He started playing polo at the age of 13 years,” she said.

The farm owner had recognised his talent and introduced him to other polo players.

“After two years he flew out to the UK to represent SA Schools,” Sthembile said.

He had played polo in various countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Spain and the UK and became a professional.

She told the court Duma had supported their family with his earnings.

He had bought them a house and a car and even put her child into a private school. They now struggle financially.

Since he died, her mother, who is diabetic, had been in and out of hospital.

“My father and I try our best to be strong for the sake of my mother, but things are not the same …

“Some days it will be all sadness.”

She said Duma left a three-year-old daughter and the “most painful part” about his death was that the girl always asked where her dad was and why he had not said goodbye.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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