Hitman’ trial: Wife testifies

2011-05-24 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG widow who is serving a sentence of life imprisonment for hiring a hitman to kill her allegedly abusive husband, Bheki Khumalo (56), in March 2009, gave evidence yesterday at the trial of the man charged with carrying out the assassination, Sandiso Simphiwe Bekwa (26).

Bekwa has pleaded not guilty.

He was to have stood trial with Sbongiseni Gwala, who allegedly enlisted him to carry out the shooting on behalf of Khumalo’s wife, Sibongile Khumalo, but Gwala has since died, the court was told yesterday.

In her opening address before high court judge Yvonne Mbatha and assessors yesterday, state advocate Candy Kander said that although Sibongile Khumalo could not identify the gunman who shot and killed her husband, the state would lead evidence to prove that it was Bekwa.

This would include evidence linking the accused to a cellphone taken from the victim, as well as the evidence of a state witness who was present at a meeting at which the planning of the murder was discussed.

Police arrested Khumalo’s widow shortly after the murder, and she pleaded guilty to the charge less than two months after her husband was shot dead while he lay sleeping in his bed at the couple’s home in Azalea on March 25, 2009.

She was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment.

Giving evidence at Bekwa’s trial yesterday, Sibongile Khumalo told the court that she had become “desperate” as a result of being abused by her husband and had decided to have him killed.

In addition to abusing her sexually and emotionally, he had also cheated on her, she said.

They were married for 12 years. The abuse started just two years into the marriage, she said in court.

Khumalo testified that she approached Gwala — her sister’s ex-boyfriend — for help to find someone to kill her husband. It was agreed that she would pay the killer R15 000.

The murder was planned for March 25, 2009.

She told the court that, as arranged, she locked herself and her child into the bathroom when the gunman arrived at the house to carry out the murder on the day in question.

Then she heard the shooting.

The case is proceeding.

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