A man has been jailed for 25 years in the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week for kidnapping and killing his cousin.
Xolani Mchunu (41) murdered Lerato Malembe (35), after helping him secure a hefty Road Accident Fund payout.
Police said that on December 28, 2018, Malembe was asleep at his home in Odlameni Section, Swayimani when he heard a knock on the door from people claiming to be the police.
Mchunu broke the door open, entered the room while shining torches around and started assaulting Malembe. He dragged Malembe to his car and drove off.
The matter was reported to police and a case of kidnapping was opened at Wartburg police station. On the same day at 8.30 am, a passer-by spotted Malembe’s body hanging from a tree at Swayimani in the Janokwe area and told the police. Malembe had suffered serious injuries to his body and a case of murder was opened.
Police said sleepless nights by Wartburg detectives led to the arrest of Mchunu who was also found in possession of Malembe‘s bank cards and ID book. Mchunu made several court appearances until he was convicted and sentenced.
Police spokeswoman Captain Nqobile Gwala said an intensive investigation revealed that during 2013, Malembe was involved in a car accident and sustained serious injuries. Mchunu helped Malembe to lodge a claim for damages from the Road Accident Fund (RAF). Malembe received “huge sums of money” and Mchunu started stealing from him.
“He became aware that his cousin was stealing his money and confronted him, [but] this infuriated” Mchunu who started plotting to kill Malembe, said Gwala.
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula congratulated Wartburg detectives for their efforts in securing the sentence. “It is sad when a family member turns on you and becomes your enemy. We pray and hope the sentence handed to the accused will help to comfort the family,” he said.