Durban — The Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court sentenced a taxi rank manager who was found guilty of murdering an e-hailing driver to 20 years in prison.
The court had convicted Xolani Mduduzeni Nzuza guilty of the murder of Siyabonga Patrick Soni.
Evidence heard by the court during the trial was that Soni arrived at the Kwamshayazafe taxi rank in Inanda, and picked up three passengers (his sister and her friends) to take them to another rank. Nzuza followed Soni to the KwaMkhize taxi rank where he fired two shots at him through an open window and killed him.
Siyethamba Mhlongo, who had been sitting in the front with Soni, was hit by a bullet that ricocheted, and Nzuza faced an attempted murder charge in this regard.
It emerged that the incident took place at a time when e-hailing services had been banned from operating in Inanda by the taxi association.
Nzuza alleged that Soni had not said that the three passengers he had picked up were his sister and friends, which was contrary to what the three State witnesses had testified.
He also disputed that he had followed Soni to the KwaMkhize taxi rank, saying he had gone there to check on the request for taxis to transport passengers from KwaMshayazafe and to report to the association’s officer that an e-hailing driver had taken passengers from his rank.
Once at the rank, he saw a group of people gathered and had seen that it was Soni and that he was wounded. In convicting Nzuza, magistrate Ravi Pillay said identification was proven and all three women, who knew him as the rank manager, placed him at the scene.
“The INK (Inanda, Ntuzuma, KwaMashu) area is the murder capital of this jurisdiction and half the court roll are murder cases … people are living in fear, they need the courts’ protection,” Pillay said.
He found no reason to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentences. Nzuza was sentenced to 15 years for murder and five years imprisonment for attempted murder. The sentences are to run consecutively.
In mitigation of sentence, Nzuza’s counsel, Jennifer Uba, argued that the accused was remorseful and had children to provide for.
State prosecutor Kaystree Ramsamujh said Nzuza’s remorse was not genuine.
“If he was remorseful he would have done this earlier and taken responsibility for his actions.”
Ramsamujh also read the victim impact statement of Soni’s sister, Zinhle Soni, who witnessed the murder. In it, she described her brother’s killing as traumatic, saying she would never forget it.
“My brother was working as an Uber driver, he had two children that he has left behind. He was a pillar for our family, he was the one supporting the family. Ever since he has passed away I have not had peace. I have even lost my job as I was dealing with money (at) work (and) I was not able to concentrate and was making a lot of mistakes since this incident. All this drove my family to misery and poverty as there was no income from me and the deceased. My mother could not handle the pain of losing her son and she became sickly. It’s heartbreaking when his children ask me why their father will never come back.”
WhatsApp your views on this story to 071 485 7995.