Pretoria killer lays into judge

2012-03-19 22:14
Pretoria - A former Umkhonto we Sizwe cadre hit out on Monday at the judge who convicted him of murdering his daughter and her friend.

Donald Makhura, 47, vowed that this was not the end of the matter.

He at first refused to take the stand to testify in mitigation of sentence, but then launched an angry verbal attack on Judge Mahomed Ismail.

He questioned Ismail's "extraordinary conduct" towards him.

Makhura told the judge there were "quite a number of issues the court had overlooked", to which Ismail reminded him that he had "every right to appeal".

Ismail found Makhura, a former home affairs law enforcement analyst, guilty of the murders of his daughter Thapelo and her male friend Raiseba Martin Ndhlela on December 4 2009.

Makhura has denied paternity of Thapelo.

Gunned down

She and Ndhlela were sitting in a car in front of the Mamelodi West house of Makhura's estranged wife Miriam when they were gunned down.

The judge rejected Makhura's evidence that he was not near the scene that night, but was on his way to Limpopo.

Ismail found that Makhura's cellphone records showed he was in Mamelodi between 22:00 and 23:30 that night and could not have been in Limpopo, as his mother had testified.

He accepted the evidence of one of Miriam's neighbours, who said he heard shots and a woman saying "papa" before seeing Makhura walking away from the car.

Although the court did not accept Miriam's identification of her husband as the shooter, it accepted her evidence that she had also heard her daughter saying "papa".


Ismail found that the murder had been premeditated, as Makhura had visited the scene on several prior occasions and had attempted to create an alibi for himself.

Miriam testified that she had obtained a protection order against him because he had sexually and physically abused her and her daughter and had repeatedly threatened to kill them.

A clearly upset Makhura said he was not there to acknowledge that he was guilty or to ask the State to give him a lesser sentence for something he did not do.

"I'm here as an innocent person," he said.

Gesturing at Miriam, who was sitting in the back of the court, he said: "May God bless those who came here to lie against me, but the matter is not over yet.... I never fathered any child with that woman. Never."

Extraordinary life

Makhura told the court he had led an "extraordinary life".

In 1992, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a policeman in a politically related crime, but was released in 1999 after being granted amnesty by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), only to find himself in the same situation again.

Miriam became emotional when she testified in aggravation of sentence.

She said Makhura had killed her only child for whose studies she had paid for alone and that the court should send him to jail for the rest of his life so that he could die there.

The trial was postponed until Friday for sentencing.

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