Three life sentences for ‘aggressive’ uMlazi killer

UMlazi killer has been sentenced to three life terms and 85 years imprisonment by Durban High Court. File image

UMlazi killer has been sentenced to three life terms and 85 years imprisonment by Durban High Court. File image

Published Jun 12, 2024


Durban — The Durban High Court described uMlazi killer Bongumusa Sphesihle Radebe, 25, as a disgrace to his ancestors as it handed him three life terms and 85 years’ imprisonment for three murders and attempted murder.

Radebe shot and killed Loyiso Shabalala in December 2020, then in May 2021 he killed Sthembiso Njapha and in 2022 he killed Mthobisi Shabase. All three men were killed in uMlazi.

The State said these crimes were committed by a group of persons acting in the furtherance of a common purpose.

Radebe was facing 13 charges but was found guilty on 10 -- three murders, three robberies with aggravating circumstances, theft, three attempted murders, unlawful possession of a prohibited firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition.

Apart from his charges, Radebe told the court that he was selling drugs which made him R3 000 or below that. He was also a street vendor and made R3 000.

Before the court handed down his sentence, State prosecutor advocate Bonginkosi Mbokazi said Radebe had not provided any compelling reasons for the court to deviate from the minimum sentences on the charges he faced.

When Radebe got on the stand in mitigation of sentence, he apologised to the families of the deceased. “Everything I did was not intentional. I was not hired but it’s because of the situations that I had gone through.”

The court had done a good job and there was nothing to criticise on how it handled his case, he said.

It also emerged in court that the other people who were with Radebe while he committed the crimes have not been arrested. Radebe said they were probably in hiding.

State prosecutor Bongani Mbokazi asked Radebe why he did not plead guilty at the start. Replying, Radebe said it is not easy to give up. He had to take his chances and maybe he could have gotten away with the crimes.

“You must try and see if maybe there was going to be a lack of evidence and I could go home,” he said.

Mbokazi also asked him where the firearms he used to commit his crimes were. He said the firearms got lost.

He also said if he could be released from prison when he is 40 years old it would be okay because he will study while incarcerated.

Radebe said he has sisters, a mother and children who live with their mothers.

The defence’s attorney reminded the court that the crime took place where two gangs were fighting and drugs were involved.

Judge Bruce Bedderson described Radebe's crimes as barbaric and said only God knows how the other victims survived when they were shot.

“It’s clear that you were part of a gang in uMlazi,” he said.

Judge Bedderson said gang killings were increasing and that needed to end.

The police often have to work under difficult circumstances to apprehend or deal with gang killings, he said.

Judge Bedderson applauded the police who worked on this case for apprehending Radebe.

“In my view, there are no compelling reasons for this court to deviate from the minimum sentences,” said Judge Bedderson.

He also declared Radebe unfit to possess a firearm in future.

Radebe’s sentences will run concurrently.

His lawyer said they are going to appeal against the sentences handed down by the court.

Sunday Tribune