Lobola: Hitman confesses to killing

2009-11-16 00:00

A CONTRACT killer who admitted killing an 88-year-old man and attempting to murder his 76-year-old wife at the behest of the man’s son who wanted to inherit the “lobola” that was due to be paid to his father, was jailed effectively for 20 years on Friday.

Pietermaritzburg high court judge Pete Koen accepted that there were compelling and substantial circumstances that entitled the court to impose less than the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment for the murder of Mthengelezi Gazu.

Gazu was stabbed in the back on April 1, 2005, in the Nkandla district in northern KwaZulu Natal.

These circumstances, said Koen, included the fact that the state might not have had sufficient evidence to convict the killer, Khulekani Mabaso (36), had it not been for his confession, as well as the genuine remorse he apparently felt for committing the crimes.

However Koen said the crimes were particularly serious because of the age of the victim, who presented a “soft and easy target on which the accused could prey”.

The judge sentenced Mabaso to 20 years’ imprisonment for murder; seven years’ imprisonment for the attempted murder of Ndabasindiswa Gazu, and to five years’ for arson, and ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

In a statement to the court detailing his involvement in the crimes, Mabaso said that about three days before the murder he was approached by the victim’s son, Mkuntuluza Gazu, who asked him to kill his father.

”Mkuntuluza said his niece was about to be married and that the lobola (bride price comprising cattle) for her was going to be paid to the deceased (his father). Mkuntuluza informed me that if the deceased was killed then the lobola would be paid to him.”

Mabaso said Mkuntuluza promised to pay him six head of cattle for killing his father.

He said that on the day in question, he set fire to the thatched roof of a hut at the victim’s premises and waited outside the only door leading to the room that was occupied by the elderly couple.

When they realised the hut nearby was on fire they emerged. As they did so he stabbed the man several times in the back, causing him to fall to the ground. He stabbed his wife at least twice in the back before fleeing the scene, he said.

Mthengelezi Gazu died in Eshowe hospital on May 8, 2005, from septicaemia and pneumonia caused by his injuries. His wife recovered.

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