Zondis’ faith in justice restored

2011-11-26 00:00

IMPRISONMENT for life of the five “merciless” killers of retired University of KZN Professor of Commerce Samuel Zondi (71) has cemented his family’s faith in the justice system, his son Terence and daughter Phindi said yesterday.

The professor was described as physically active and fit at the time of his death and practised photography as a hobby.

On February 17, 2009, the accused, Gugu Ndlovu, Jabulile Ngcobo, Sakhile Hlongwa, Mzwandile Zwane and Mondli Cele, along with one other man, Simphiwe Gwala, used deceit to gain entry to his flat, where they overpowered and gagged Zondi, binding his hands and feet and blindfolded him.

When his body was found it had been burned and a pillow and black plastic bag covered his face.

Ndlovu later tried to use his credit card. Jabulile Ngcobo, who paved the way for the attackers by telephoning the professor posing as a client and arranging to meet at his flat, apologised to Zondi’s family for her involvement yesterday.

She said she’d never intended for him to die. Similar sentiments were expressed on behalf of Zwane and Cele by their legal representatives.

The court found that Ndlovu (who claimed to have had an affair with Zondi) had “wanted him removed forever from the face of the earth” and had set fire to the bed where he still lay tied up after his death.

“If he burnt to ashes it mattered not to her,” Acting Judge Jerome Ngwenya said.

He described the professor’s murder as “barbaric in the extreme”.

Zondi’s wife, Dorothy, who has attended the trial throughout, wept after the sentences were passed.

Gugu Ndlovu, who masterminded the robbery and murder plan, was sentenced to life plus an effective 20 years’ imprisonment for her role, while her four co-accused were each jailed for life plus 15 years.

Zondi’s son Terence and daughter Phindi Masondo both paid tribute to the sterling work by the investigation team led by Warrant Officer Derek Coetzee as well as state advocate, Attie Truter, who, they said, supported the family throughout their ordeal.

Emotional members of the Zondi family and their friends gathered around the officials, shook their hands and gave short speeches expressing their gratitude.

Masondo told Weekend Witness the family has finally achieved closure after a difficult three years.

“My father was something else. He was a people’s person and he had no enemy. We wanted to know what had happened, how it came about that he was killed so terribly. At least now we know that it was out of greed and nothing else,” she said.

She said her mother suffered much anguish during the trial, not least as a result of the evidence that the professor had an affair with Gugu Ndlovu. “As far as she is concerned this might not be the truth because he is not there and cannot defend himself,” said Masondo.

She said her parents were married for over 40 years. There are five daughters and two sons.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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