Pensioners’ murderers jailed for life

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A Pietermaritzburg murder and robbery accused who escaped from police custody had a list of people he wanted to assassinate while on the run, The Witness reported.

Durban - Two men who strangled two pensioners and then hung their bodies from the rafters of their home, have been sentenced to life in prison.

The murders shocked the Swayimane community, near Wartburg, in October last year.

Bhekizwe Mabasa, 27, and Nhlanhla Mbhele, 28, were sentenced to life for the murder of Mfanilo Mkhize, 79, plus 15 years for the murder of his girlfriend, Zanekile Ngidi, 75.

The two were sentenced to a further 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances after they made off with the couple’s pension money and Mkhize’s shotgun.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Judge Fikile Mokgohloa on Thursday found that the two accused had planned Mkhize’s murder, but that Ngidi had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The judge said she was shocked at the manner in which these crimes were carried out.

“It is clear that you have no respect or regard for the sanctity of human life. This was a defenceless elderly couple who did not deserve to meet their end in this brutal manner,” she said.

The court heard that some time prior to October 17 last year, Mabasa’s brother was shot and killed. He suspected that Mkhize was responsible for the murder and decided to exact revenge on him. He asked Mbhele for his help and they conspired to rob and kill Mkhize.

On the morning of October 17, they went to Mkhize’s homestead, but he was not there. They were told that Mkhize had gone to collect his pension, so they waited on the roadside for him to return.

After receiving their pension grants, Mkhize and Ngidi walked towards Mkhize’s home and were approached by the accused.

The accused walked the couple to the homestead and then strangled them both. They took ropes and hanged the elderly couple from the rafters, after which they stole their pension money and the firearm and fled.

Shocked neighbours found the bodies later that day.

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