Murdered hours after landing

2008-12-01 00:00

Within about five hours of landing in South Africa and telling a friend he was looking forward to playing golf in the sunshine, Austrian national Peter Burgstaller was shot dead on the 12th tee at Selborne Golf Estate on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on November 23, 2007.

He was allegedly robbed of a cellphone and cash.

Brothers Mthokozisi Msani (25) and Simo Msani (25), both of Nkombo, Malangeni, not far from the estate, are on trial for the murder at the Ramsgate High Court before KZN Judge President Vuka Tshabalala and two assessors.

They pleaded not guilty to four charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, murder, unlawful possession of a 9 mm semi-automatic firearm and unlawful possession of six rounds of 9 mm ammunition.

Representatives of the Austrian embassy in Durban and Pretoria, as well as a family friend of the victim, Otto Kantner, are attending the trial.

Mthokozisi Msani’s legal representative, Thulani Shange, said his client will tell the court he did not kill Burgstaller. He will say that he left his homestead to go to a nearby forest to collect firewood and picked up a Nokia cellphone in the forest, which he gave to his brother.

Simo Msani’s advocate, Philemon Ndlela, said his client too denies participating in the murder. He will say that on the evening in question his brother came home and gave him a cellphone. He was never aware it was linked to a crime. He was at a friend’s place of work and planning to charge the cellphone battery when police arrived, and he had co-operated with them.

It was explained to the two accused that if convicted they could face minimum sentences of 15 years’ imprisonment on each of the counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and possession of the 9 mm firearm, and life imprisonment for murder.

Burgstaller’s South African friend, Neil Smith of Johannesburg, said he had met the Austrian in Germany during the 2006 Soccer World Cup. Both are sports managers. He said Burgstaller came to South Africa last November to attend the preliminary draw for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in Durban, and to visit him in order to discuss business opportunities surrounding 2010.

He had arrived on Friday morning at 11 am and called to say he was looking forward to “some golf in the sunshine”. That afternoon at about 2.15 pm they spoke for the last time while Burgstaller was en route to Selborne. Burgstaller was supposed to pick him up at Durban International Airport on Sunday, November 25, to proceed to Durban for the draw, but he failed to arrive.

Smith said when he heard that Burgstaller had been shot dead he could not believe it. Later he had gone to see the Austrian group Burgstaller had been due to meet in Durban and they had already heard the news. “They were absolutely devastated. I offered to take them to the draw but they didn’t want to leave the hotel … they just wanted to stay in the hotel,” he said.

The case is proceeding.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.