Road rage killer: sentence upheld

2010-09-20 00:00

THREE judges of appeal have upheld the murder conviction and 18-year jail sentence imposed in 2007 on “road rage” killer Simanga Wiseman Mthembu (38).

Mthembu was found guilty of shooting a local taxi driver, Mfanafuthi Derrick Majozi, near Masons Mill on the Edendale Road on April 9, 2006.

The shooting followed an altercation between the two men earlier the same day over the manner in which Majozi drove his taxi.

On the second occasion, after Majozi allegedly cut in front of Mthembu’s vehicle, the two stopped, alighted and another argument ensued, during which Majozi was shot dead.

In a reserved judgment handed down on Friday, judges Kevin Swain, Trevor Gorven and Achmat Jappie found that Judge Chris Nicholson correctly rejected Mthembu’s version that he acted in self-defence to ward off a knife attack on him by Majozi during the altercation.

Swain said Judge Nicholson was correctly critical of Mthembu’s version that his finger was never on the trigger of the firearm.

He and the other judges further supported Nicholson’s conclusion that Mthembu’s evidence that Majozi inadvertently pulled the trigger at least three times (during a struggle) and wounded himself on each occasion, was “incredible”.

“The version of the state witnesses establishes that the appellant was the aggressor and possessed the necessary intention to murder the deceased,” the appeal court ruled.

With regard to the sentence, the full bench rejected a submission that a “defect in proceedings” had resulted from a failure by Judge Nicholson to inform the defence that he was considering imposing a sentence on Mthembu that was higher than the prescribed minimum term of 15 years’ imprisonment.

The appeal court held further that the 18-year sentence could not be described as “shocking, startling or disturbingly inappropriate”.

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