Midlands assassin gets two life terms

2008-11-05 00:00

Acting Judge Nompumelelo Radebe yesterday sentenced assassin Lucky Themba Mlangeni (35) of Nelspruit to two life terms for the contract murders of two stud farm employees in 2004.

The judge also refused Mlangeni’s application for leave to appeal against the life sentences.

His legal aid attorney, Zuki Diyasi, submitted that the sentence induced “shock” as Mlangeni pleaded guilty and indicated that he was remorseful for his crimes, but the judge said she had given careful consideration to these issues when sentencing him.

Mlangeni pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the murders of Simphiwe Trevor Ndlovu at St Ives farm in Howick on June 10, 2004, and of Mandla Petros Masango at Rathmor Stud Farm at Nottingham Road on October 5, 2004. Both men were ambushed and shot multiple times.

In his plea explanation, Mlangeni alleged that he carried out the killings at the behest of his former boss at Mapogo Security Company, Roelf Struwig, and the two farmers, each of whom allegedly paid R5 000 for the murders.

Family members of the victims — including Ndlovu’s widow, Octavia, and Masango’s widow, Betty — who attended the sentencing yesterday told The Witness they want to thank the police for bringing the killer to justice, but added that they are anxious that all those involved should be brought to book.

Ndlovu left three children and Masango four children.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendent Henry Budhram said that in the light of the evidence in court, police will conduct further investigations.

Radebe found that Mlangeni’s over-riding motive was monetary gain, despite his claim that he needed the accommodation provided by his employer and had “no option”.

She said she regarded his employment as a security guard as an aggravating feature.

She accepted as a mitigating factor the fact that Mlangeni pleaded guilty, that he had no previous convictions and is the father of an eight-year-old child. She also took into account his statement that his guilty plea was a sign of remorse, “albeit at a late stage”.

The judge said a study of the list of witnesses who would have testified indicated that some might have been accomplices and for that reason Mlangeni’s guilty plea appeared to be “less a sign of remorse than an escape route”.

She said his remorse surely had not set in immediately after Ndlovu was killed, otherwise he would not have gone on to kill Masango four months later.

She said both murders were carefully planned. Ndlovu, who sustained four gunshots, died in hospital after 20 days, but when Mlangeni shot Masango he ensured that he died “on the spot” — the post-mortem revealed 16 bullet entry wounds.

In both cases, Mlangeni simply drove away after committing the murders. As a security guard his duty was to protect the farm community, she said.

She said sentences should send a message to deter those who allow themselves to be used as hitmen for money.


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