Taxi man’s slow, painful death: killer gets life

2011-06-17 00:00

A MAN who pleaded guilty to the 2010 murder and robbery of a Newcastle metered taxi driver whose body was dumped in a pit toilet, has been sentenced to life plus 15 years’ imprisonment.

Acting Pietermaritzburg high court judge K.Q. Hadebe, sitting with two assessors, said Francis Msimango (33) suffered a slow and painful death merely to facilitate the taking of his motor vehicle.

Msimango was tied up with shoelaces and strangled with a belt, and his body was driven 450 km to Nkandla and dumped in the pit.

The murder was in vain as the killers set the vehicle alight and abandoned it soon afterwards when they experienced mechanical problems with the car.

The judge said she had been told that three other co-perpetrators were each sentenced to effective jail terms of 24 years’ imprisonment following their guilty pleas and convictions.

However, she was unable to find any compelling and substantial circumstances that justified less than the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment in respect of the murder for the accused before court, Funukwazi Shabalala.

In a plea read to the court by Shabalala’s legal aid lawyer, Kelvin Singh, Shabalala said he was at Osizweni with the three other men, Siyabonga Selepe, Ayanda Maduna and Simphiwe Mdakeni, when the victim drove past them in his metered taxi, a Honda Ballade.

Selepe had suggested that they should rob Msimango and share the proceeds of the sale of his car.

Shabalala said they all agreed and flagged down Msimango on the pretext of hiring his taxi.

At a secluded spot Selepe drew his firearm and pointed it at the driver and ordered him to stop.

Shabalala said they drove to the Umzinyathi River where Selepe informed them that they had to kill Msimango in order to prevent him pointing them out as the people who robbed him.

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