Defiant ‘Lazarus’ gets 22 yrs

2016-06-29 13:53
Sibusiso John Gcabashe, nicknamed Lazarus, was jailed for 22 years.

Sibusiso John Gcabashe, nicknamed Lazarus, was jailed for 22 years. (Ingrid Oellermann, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Moments before being led to the cells to start serving a 22-year jail term on Tuesday, the man nicknamed “Lazarus” ­insisted again he was the dead Maskandi musician “Mgqumeni”.

He then burst into song in the regional court.

An onlooker told The Witness the song was one that had been made ­famous by the late Maskandi musician who Lazarus (Sibusiso John Gcabashe) claims to be.

Gcabashe (33) attracted huge crowds and gained notoriety over his ­impersonation of the late Kwakhe Khulekani Khumalo Mseleku, known as Mgqumeni, in northern KZN in 2012.

A small group of people, consisting mainly of members of Gcabashe’s family and his supporters, clapped with delight yesterday as he completed his song ­before being led to the cells.

Speaking in Zulu, Gcabashe told an SABC radio journalist at court that he “is Mgqumeni” and denied he was guilty of the crimes he stood convicted of, ­including rape.

He said he will continue to play his guitar and compose and perform music in prison.

He was granted leave to appeal to the high court against both his convictions and sentences and said the matter will be finally settled in the high court where he is confident of being found not guilty.

He was sentenced for ­kidnapping, rape, assault, fraud and attempted escaping by ­regional court magistrate Rose Mogwera, who previously rejected his claim that he was the dead ­musician. Police fingerprint experts said his prints did not match those of the late Mgqumeni.

Sentencing Gcabashe to seven years’ imprisonment on that charge alone yesterday, Mogwera said his impersonation of the late musician must have been ­distressing for Mgqumeni’s family.

“Imagine one day you have buried your beloved relative and the next day you are told he is alive, apparently risen from the dead. You don’t know what to believe … You may be hoping for a ­miracle only to be let down again by the true state of affairs,” she said.

Mogwera said Gcabashe showed ­absolutely no remorse for his actions right up until yesterday when he once again refused to accept responsibility for his previous convictions, which include convictions for theft and fraud.

This meant the state had to lead the evidence of a fingerprint expert, ­Warrant Officer Chantal Wood, who confirmed his previous convictions based on fingerprint evidence. The court heard that no two people, not even twins, can have the same fingerprints.

The first three charges on which ­Gcabashe was found guilty involved the same victim — a young woman he was found to have kidnapped in November 2011 and held against her will in the ­Ixopo and Durban areas.

During the week she was in his ­custody, the court found Gcabashe ­assaulted her by hitting her in the face with his open hand, and raped her on many occasions.

He was found to have perpetrated fraud on the Khumalo and Mseleku ­families in January and February 2012 at Kranskop and Nqutu when he claimed to be Mgqumeni, knowing this was not the case.

On May 4, 2012, Gcabashe tried to ­escape from court at Nqutu.

In his application for leave to appeal Gcabashe’s convictions and sentences, defence advocate Johan Botha from Gauteng said the court ought to have been cautious about accepting the ­evidence of the rape victim, who had not reported her kidnapping or rape ­immediately after it happened.

According to the evidence the young woman, who was only 17 at the time, also did not take advantage of the ­opportunities she had to escape from Gcabashe. This lent credence to ­Gcabashe’s claim that she consented to be with him, said Botha.

Mogwera said Gcabashe had taken ­advantage of the fact that the young woman came from a rural community and was naïve. She said yesterday that she did not accept that the victim did not suffer emotional or psychological harm as a result of Gcabashe’s actions.

However, she found that it would be unjust for Gcabashe to be sentenced to the minimum prescribed sentence of life imprisonment for the rape, and instead jailed him for 15 years for that crime.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  crime  |  court

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