Long terms for tavern killers

2008-08-13 00:00

Two men were yesterday each sentenced to five life terms plus more than 100 years’ imprisonment on multiple charges of murder, attempted murder, arson and robbery with aggravating circumstances, including a tavern massacre in which five people died at Hammarsdale last year.

One of them — Thulani Service Nxele (31) of Hammarsdale — was found guilty on two additional counts of unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition. His total sentence is one of five terms of life imprisonment plus 122 years in jail.

His co-accused, Mbuyiselo Eric Ntusi (35) of Klaarwater, was sentenced to five life terms plus 107 years in jail by Judge Mohini Murugasen, sitting with two assessors.

The sentences will all run concurrently.

The judge said Ntusi showed no remorse and “persisted in his arrogance” throughout the trial.

They both clearly had the intention to commit the crimes, acted in concert and both actively participated in all the offences, which were planned.

Both have previous convictions.

Judge Murugasen said she did not agree with submissions by Nxele’s lawyer, Divesh Mootheram, that Nxele showed remorse by pleading guilty to the most serious charges. She said that in spite of Nxele’s guilty plea, he misled the court and tried to exculpate his co-accused.

The two men were found guilty of killing Thandekile Mbundwini by shooting him in the head at the Arundel Road informal settlement near Durban on January 1 last year.

The motive appeared to be a grievance over a “paltry” sum of money.

During the same incident the pair robbed Vana Alfred Luthuli of R400 and attempted to murder him and Reginah Cele, whom they confronted, with their children, in another room.

Before leaving, the accused set fire to the room by spraying a chemical substance and setting it alight. Luthuli and Cele were injured.

In the second incident, four people — Sibusiso Dlomo, Sthembiso Jackson Chili, Ntokozo Chamane and Bulelani Nodokwana — were killed, and five were shot at or threatened. One of the patrons was also robbed of R300.

The incident happened at Mkhono’s Tavern in Georgedale near Hammarsdale on January 7 last year.

The judge described the attack as a “rampage”. She said the accused not only shot those they planned to kill, but shot at anyone they saw in the tavern, including innocent patrons. Some were playing pool and posed no threat, but the accused had no qualms about shooting them.

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