Mpumalanga man guilty of killing engineer

2015-04-23 19:59


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Mbombela - An Mpumalanga man was on Thursday found guilty of killing an engineer during a house robbery, when he appeared in the Eastern Circuit District of the high court in Mbombela.

Godfrey Sthembiso Shabangu, 35, from Jerusalem village near White River, killed Lawrence Carew Bezuidenhout, 43, in his home in Mbombela on January 30 2010.

Judge Peter Mabuse also found him guilty of four counts of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, one count of housebreaking with intent to rob, and robbery with aggravating circumstances, and two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.

The crimes were committed around Mbombela in 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012. He stole electronic equipment, jewellery, CDs, DVDs, television sets, shoes, clothing and groceries.

He pleaded guilty to seven of the 10 counts he faced through a statement read before court by his lawyer Palton Mnisi.

"I plead guilty with knowledge that if found guilty I will be sent to jail. On January 30 2010 I went to the deceased's house with my friend Trinity who carried a 9mm pistol. After seeing people on the balcony, we gained entry into the house through a window. The deceased came and when he saw us, my friend shot him and we robbed him," he told the court.

Prosecutor Lawrence More told the court that Shabangu's two co-accused had died.

According to a report on his mental status he had no mental illness.

"He is able to distinguish what is rights and wrong and is in his sober mind," More said.

Widow breaks down in tears

Bezuidenhout’s widow, Karen, 45, said her husband's death resulted in the loss of their house and business. She and her two children, a girl, 10, and boy, 16, had to move in with relatives in Pretoria.

"My husband ran Engine Rebuilding Centre in Nelspruit with 15 employees. I was forced to close it down after I could not get a buyer. I also assisted him with my sister-in-law in the business. Together with our employees, we had to look for other jobs," she said.

Karen, who broke down in tears as she gave evidence, said she was in the house during the murder. Bezuidenhout’s mother, who sat in the public gallery, also broke down in tears.

"One child was sleeping. We suffered emotionally with my daughter. Seeing the blood was terrible. We still have sleepless nights and my daughter is still attending counselling. We haven't recovered the items that were stolen," she said.

Mabuse praised Shabangu’s defence for making him understand the seriousness of the case and reaching a guilty plea.

"The State has decided not to call any witnesses as the accused confirms the contents of his plea statements, that he understands the charges against him. The court, therefore, finds him guilty as charged on counts two to count eight," Mabuse said.

Shabangu's defence asked to call his relative, Nomsa Maluka, for a pre-sentencing statement.

Mabuse postponed the case to April 28 for the witness and sentencing.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  crime

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