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Durban - Rodney Bradley’s killers - Nhlanhla Hlongwa and Njabulo Majozi - were callous, had no remorse or respect for human dignity and property.
In the Durban High Court on Thursday, Hlongwa and Majozi, both 25, were sentenced to life imprisonment for Bradley’s murder.
Hlongwa was sentenced to a further 10 years for attempted murder, four years for an unrelated house break-in and four years for the illegal possession of a firearm.
Majozi was sentenced to an additional 15 years for robbery and 10 years for attempted murder.
The sentences will run concurrently.
In passing sentence, Judge Esther Steyn said the two were callous, showed no remorse and had disregard for property and human dignity. She said Bradley had the right to enjoy the freedom of living on a large property with a beautiful garden.
“Other people and home owners in the same area are entitled to live on their property without fear of being robbed, attacked or killed.
Bradley’s fiancée, Terri Carlson, said she was “numb” as she had known all along they were guilty.
Bradley, 51, was gunned down in their home in Igwababa Road on April 5 as he opened the door to let his dogs out at about 6.40am.
Carlson, who was in the bedroom, had seen the men in the garden and locked eyes with one of them as they approached the home.
She had shouted to her fiancé, who was on the phone to a friend. Carlson locked herself in the bathroom and Bradley armed himself with a stick, but was gunned down when the men entered the house.
Hlongwa and Majozi had pleaded not guilty.
Majozi’s cousin, Siyande Majozi, had earlier pleaded guilty on the same charges and was sentenced to 25 years in jail. During the trial Siyande provided evidence against his co-accused.
Carlson took the stand to provide crucial evidence against the gang, two of whom she had seen outside the house.
Steyn said she had found Siyande’s evidence to be true as he was “assertive, confident and consistent”. She said he had no reason to falsely implicate his cousin in the crime as Njabulo had alleged.
Steyn said that Siyande’s version of events had revealed how the men had gone to Pinetown with a firearm to commit a robbery but had decided against it because of a high police presence.
“They then decided to go to a tavern and in the morning they decided to go to Kloof. They stood at the railway line and made a decision to enter the house,” the judge said. “It was dark and they decided to wait until sunrise.”
Steyn said Hlongwa fired two shots at Bradley as he approached them with a stick. Bradley grabbed Hlongwa who then dropped the gun. Njabulo picked up the gun and fired further shots at Bradley who collapsed.
The gang ransacked the house. They tried to break down the bathroom door where Carlson was hiding and she managed to move from the door “just in time” before they fired two shots through it.
They fled with laptops, jewellery, cellphones and foreign currency.
Steyn said Hlongwa could not have fired “warning shots” at the ground as he had claimed because Bradley had been shot six times.
However, the judge said Njabulo had contradicted himself in his testimony which she said “could not reasonably, possibly be true”.
He claimed he had told his accomplices that he was “not in the mood” to commit a crime and had argued with his accomplices at the railway line.
Njabulo had claimed that he was fearful because he had slept with a prostitute that night and in his culture this brought bad luck.
Steyn said she had found Carlson to be an “excellent” witness who had not wavered under cross-examination.
State attorney Rea Mina said:
“They were callous, have shown no remorse at all and stepped over the body of the deceased and went about their business.
“They took the cellphone out of a dead man’s hand.”
Hlongwa had a previous conviction for housebreaking while Majozi was given a five-year sentence, suspended for five years, for culpable homicide in 2010, and had also been convicted of housebreaking in November last year for which he received a six-month sentence, suspended for five years.