Estcourt Attack: 19-year-old pleads guilty to murder

2010-11-11 00:00

AN Estcourt man, Zwelithini Mazibuko, pleaded guilty and was convicted on his 19th birthday yesterday of robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder of Vumephi Tryphina Mpila, using a bushknife.

In a statement to the high court, Mazibuko said he had been approached a few days earlier by a friend, Thulani (Gogotha) Mazibuko, who asked him to help kill Mpila, who had “bewitched” and killed his brother and his brother’s children.

Gogotha told him Mpila had R10 000 they could obtain when they went to kill her.

They went to Mpila’s home at midnight on October 8 armed with a bushknife and firearm.

Mazibuko said Mpila at first denied having any money, but after he struck her in the face with the flat side of his bushknife she gave him R440.

Then, while he waited for Gogotha, who had left the room with a “young female” occupant of the house, Mazibuko said he took two cellphones, cellphone chargers and two watches.

On his return, Gogotha put his firearm against Mpila’s head and fired a single shot. “The firearm jammed and when Gogotha realised that his firearm was not working he instructed me to kill the deceased with my bushknife.

“I then struck [her] several times on the head with my bushknife until she fell to the ground,” he said.

Defence attorney Ishi Khan urged Judge Yvonne Gcaba to consider imposing less than the presribed term of life imprisonment.

He said Mazibuko was orphaned when he was six years old. In 2006 he was forced to leave school after suffering a severe head injury when he was assaulted.

He had since assisted his family by herding their cattle.

Other mitigating factors were his youth, the possible influence exerted over him by his accomplice, and the fact that he had co-operated with police after his arrest and pleaded guilty.

State advocate Ruan du Preez said an aggravating feature was that the victim was killed in the presence of two children, aged 14 and 15 years.One of them was allegedly raped, though not by Mazibuko.

He will be sentenced tomorrow.

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