Brothers jailed for killing domestic and boy (7)

2011-07-05 00:00

TWO brothers were handed sentences of life and 27 years’ imprisonment yesterday for their roles in the brutal murders of domestic worker Mildred Dlamini (38) and her friend’s seven-year-old son, Kwanele Mnikathi.

The pair were stabbed to death during a robbery at Sunnycrest Farm in Bishopstowe in December 2008.

The court found that they were murdered probably because they could identify the perpetrators.

Judge Anton van Zyl, sitting with assessors, jailed the older brother, Phumlani Luthuli (23) of Haniville, for life plus an effective 20 years’ imprisonment after finding he was the leader of the expedition, and his younger sibling, Lungisani Luthuli (19), to an effective 27 years’ imprisonment.

They were found guilty of two counts of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of six firearms and ammunition that were stolen from the farmhouse during the robbery.

Two other accused in the trial who were convicted only of theft for disposing of goods stolen during the course of the robbery — Zamokwakhe Nxumalo (25) and Thabani Phungula (20) — were each given a suspended sentence of two years’ imprisonment.

Judge van Zyl found that it was not justified to impose life imprisonment on Lungisani Luthuli because it was probable he was under the influence of his older brother. Besides, he was only 17 years old at the time of the murders and he has prospects for rehabilitation.

However, in the case of Phumlani Luthuli, the judge said he would have imposed life imprisonment even if there were no minimum sentence.

Judge van Zyl said Phumlani Luthuli qualified on three separate grounds for a sentence of life imprisonment in terms of minimum sentencing provisions — namely that the murders were premeditated, that the victims were potential witnesses against them and because the murders were committed in the course of a robbery.

He said Phumlani Luthuli worked as a gardener at Sunnycrest farm for a long time and knew Mildred Dlamini well.

His younger brother had also worked at the farm occasionally and would also have known her.

It was probable therefore that they murdered both Dlamini and the child in order to avoid detection.

Neither of the brothers had shown any remorse, he said.

The judge said the shocking nature of the killings was exacerbated by the fact that after Dlamini and the boy were killed the accused had returned to the farm to collect more items, including a microwave oven, knowing the victims were lying in the kitchen. It demonstrated a particularly callous disregard for the killings, the judge said.

According to evidence at the trial after the murders the accused ransacked the farmhouse and loaded stolen goods on to the owner’s bakkie and drove around disposing of the stolen goods to get money in order to enjoy themselves.

Farm owner Colin Lucke and his family were on holiday in Mozambique at the time.

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