The callousness shown by the assailants who murdered pensioner Muziwamdoda Alfred Nkandi and robbed him and his wife, Duduzile, in their home last year was “frankly breathtaking”.
This was said by Judge Anton van Zyl who sentenced the gunman, Msizi Ndlela (34), to life imprisonment and accomplices Thabani Madondo (29) and Philani Malinga (32) to effective sentences of 25 years’ and 20 years’ imprisonment respectively.
The court found the men had been participants in a “crime spree” that began when they, and two others, had cut the perimeter fence and forced their way into the Nkandi homestead in Sweetwaters on the night of June 28 last year.
After Ndlela shot Nkandi at close range through his left eye in front of his wife, the intruders ransacked the couple’s home.
They tied up Duduzile and took the rings off her fingers, including her wedding ring, while her husband’s body lay unmoving on the floor.
The couple’s five-year-old grandson, who was in the house at the time, later came to his grandmother’s side.
When they couldn’t start the Nkandi’s Nissan Hardbody bakkie, which they had planned to steal, the gang left on foot. They subsequently stole a Toyota Corolla that had been left idling outside another home while the driver went inside, and thereafter also hijacked the VW Polo of Njabulo Ndlovu, who was forced into the boot.
Ndlovu was driven around for the best part of the night in the boot, and was also robbed of his cash at gunpoint before he was eventually released by the assailants.
Judge van Zyl said Duduzile’s victim impact statement, which was handed to court, “reads like a cry of despair”.
“Not only did he [Alfred Nkandi] needlessly lose his life, but the life of his widow has effectively been ruined. All because young men who were fit and healthy decided out of greed to take what does not belong to them,” he said.
He said the trauma experienced by hijacking victim Njabulo Ndlovu was evident when he broke down and cried while testifying.
“It is not difficult to imagine, apart from the physical discomfort, the fear and anxiety he must have endured during those hours in the boot of the VW Polo. During the entire time he must have anticipated that at any time he might be killed,” the judge said.
He said when it came to the appropriate sentences imposed on the three attackers, the court had decided to differentiate between them based on various factors. This included their individual roles and whether or not they had shown remorse. The court found that Ndlela was the “leader” of the group and the gunman who pulled the trigger and killed Nkandi. The court found Madondo had played a lesser role in the robbery and murder and was also a first offender. However, he had not shown any remorse for his crimes.
While Malinga was responsible for causing the gang to target the Nkandi homestead, he had been remorseful from the outset, pleading guilty to all the crimes, except for the murder.
Judge van Zyl said there was support for his evidence that he had not intended for the Nkandi couple to be harmed and that he had asked Ndlela afterwards why he shot Nkandi. However, despite this he went along with all the crimes.
“I am a widow who is very much traumatised by losing my husband, Alfred M Nkandi. We were very much in love and people used to see we are a very good example of how people in marriage should be in love,” Duduzile Nkandi wrote in a victim impact statement before court.
“The pain that I have since I lost him is unbearable. I have lost all my happiness. I spend sleepless nights in the house because I relive the horrific ordeal. I even become afraid when someone knocks on the door. Rest in peace Mlotshwa Nkandi Bikani, rest peacefully, from your wife that loved you,” she wrote.
Duduzile Nkandi said at court after the sentencing yesterday she was satisfied that justice has been done since her husband’s killers have been brought to book.