PMB road rage killer jailed

2007-11-30 00:00

It was “with great regret” that a high court judge yesterday sentenced Pietermaritzburg “road rage” killer Simanga Wiseman Mthembu (38) to 18 years’ imprisonment for the murder of local taxi driver Derrick Majozi (29), who was shot dead near Mason’s Mill on April 9.

Imposing the sentence on Mthembu, Judge Chris Nicholson said he has had a long and promising career as a nurse. However, the court has to send a deterrent message to society that violence of this nature will not be tolerated.

“There is no doubt that many of us suffer at the hands of bad motorists in everyday life. No doubt for many of us, the behaviour of taxis in particular is a source of great irritation. But if any motorist behaves badly or breaks the law, the proper remedy is to approach the police and lay charges of reckless or negligent driving. The law does not permit any citizen to take the law into their own hands,” the judge said.

Nicholson found there was little to differentiate Mthembu’s case from a 1998 Witwatersrand case (State versus Sehlako) where the accused, also a first offender aged 37, shot dead a motorist in a rage after a collision, and was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

If anything, Mthembu was at a greater disadvantage in that he’d had some six hours to think about the wrath that he built up against Majozi over an earlier incident (involving a near collision between them in the city centre).

He said he accepted that the murder was not planned or premeditated by Mthembu, as was alleged by the prosecution. He said he accepted that it was coincidence the two men met up again that evening, when the shooting occurred. He also accepted that the taxi driver was to blame for the earlier incident when the two men almost came to blows, in that he failed to stop at a stop street.

The judge said there was no evidence that Mthembu took down the taxi’s registration number or got any details that could have enabled him “hunt down” Majozi.

Judge Nicholson said Mthembu testified “very movingly” that not a day goes by without him regretting his actions. He expressed remorse for shooting and killing Majozi and has been consulting a psychiatrist and a psychologist in order to come to terms with his act. Judge Nicholson said Mthembu showed true contrition, this was his first brush with the law and he is a good candidate for reformation.

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