Killers dodge family

2012-09-04 00:00

“HE was led away like a lamb to the slaughter.”

That was how Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel described the horror inflicted upon Njabulo Hlela, a 31-year-old teacher, who was killed two years ago in the Folweni area on the KZN South Coast.

Van Amstel sentenced five young men to three years for Hlela’s kidnapping and 18 years on two counts each for aggravated robbery.

Four of the group, Mandla Magwaza (24), Sandile Hlongwane (21), Sibusiso Cibane (19) and Thabane Shange (37), each received life imprisonment for the killing.

Brian Miya (20) was acquitted of the murder.

As the judge left the Scottburgh High Court at the conclusion of the case last week, the victims’ family and friends insulted the convicted men as they almost fell over each other in their haste to reach the cells and evade the abuse.

The state’s chronicle of their crimes, based on strong evidence that the court largely accepted, was that all five had firstly hijacked a VW Fox vehicle from a motorist, Bongani Sithole.

That vehicle had then been used to sideswipe and stop a Toyota Tazz, the driver and two passengers of which had been robbed of various items.

Hlela had the misfortune to be drunk and asleep on the back seat and was woken and also robbed. The men took his bank card, tortured him to reveal the pin number and drew R1 000.

Scared that he had heard their names, they decided to kill him after some preliminary disagreement. He was taken to a “place of execution” under a railway bridge and knifed to death, while the car radio was turned up to drown his pleading and fearful yelling.

Miya, the court found, had not participated in the murder.

Hlela’s father gave evidence of the loss to the family and the judge ruled that aggravating circumstances had outweighed any mitigating factors, compelling him to impose minimum sentences according to law.

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