IN a dramatic turn, after a year of in and out of court hearings, two of the five accused in the murders-for money cases, Mildred Khoza and Hlengiwe Zuma, pleaded guilty in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to three charges of pre-meditated murder and one attempted murder and insurance fraud. They were sentenced to 17 and 15 years respectively.
The other three accused, Joseph Khanyile, Mandla Khumalo and Doris Dladla-Zaca will appear in Pietermaritzburg High Court on November 30 to either plead or a trial date will be set.
Advocate Shane Matthews presented plea bargains for 39- year-old Khoza, a Tugela Ferry teacher and 54-year-old Hlengiwe, an HIV counsellor, stating they had not been present at the scene of the crimes, but had been aware of what was going to happen.
Khoza said she had been approached by Khanyile to take part in an insurance scam, to which she had agreed knowing the victim would be killed.
She pleaded she was not involved in the killing, and “without minimising the crime, I was more of a facilitator”.
Khoza offered to testify against the other accused.
She was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the murder of the first victim, Mdlalose and eight years for insurance fraud, to run concurrently.
Zuma’s plea was similar – she admitted to insuring Mdalose and the fourth attempted victim who had survived.
She received 15 years for murder, eight for attempted murder and eight for insurance fraud – a total of 17 years as parts of the sentences run concurrently.
The five have been in and out of Greytown Magistrate’s Court since November 2016 on these murder charges.
Last week they appeared in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in front of acting Judge Sidwell Mngadi, but three of the lawyers appearing for the accused withdrew as they had not been paid, and the case was postponed to Monday.
In 2015 the accused are said to have drugged their first victim and then hit him with a car on the Msinga road. The second suffered a similar fate on the Matimatolo road and the third, a student was shot.
They attempted to murder a mentally disturbed female, who survived and a second attempt to inject her with a lethal substance.