Durban — Sboniso Ngcobo, 39, was convicted in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court of murder and two attempted murders stemming from a 2019 hit at the KwaMashu Men’s Hostel, north of Durban.
Magistrate Ravi Pillay sentenced Ngcobo to life imprisonment for the murders and five years for the attempted murders.
In December 2019, Ngcobo, who was with three other men, shot the deceased Mandla Mcwango and two other men who were having a braai at the hostel.
Ngcobo and the men he was with were all armed. Mcwango was shot three times, once in the chest, and sustained two gunshots to his back.
State witness Nhlakanipho Biyela was shot multiple times, but managed to escape and lived to tell the tale.
All other witnesses were assassinated before the matter was set down for trial, and the accused fled the area and was arrested a year later.
Prosecutor Kaystree Ramsamujh, in aggravation of sentence, said the offences of murder and attempted murder were serious and prevalent, not only in the Ntuzuma jurisdiction, but in the entire country.
“This is evident by the number of cases of this nature on our court roll. The preservation of human life is of paramount importance and society needs to be protected from people like the accused. The accused not only acted alone in the commission of the offence, but he acted with his cohorts and firearms were wielded to shoot and injure the victims, and the accused had possessed his own firearm at the time,” she said.
Ramsamujh said the manner in which the deceased and complainant in count 2 were pounced on by their assailants was also an aggravating factor, where they were boxed in against a wall and there was no way to escape.
“There was no motive for the killing. It was a senseless brutal attack on people who were just enjoying a braai. It was not only Biyela who was injured, but another person also sustained injuries. Unfortunately, a hit was put out on him and he passed away before the matter was trialled. All the witnesses were shot at before the trial stage. The murder weapons were never recovered, and the accused also fled and disappeared after the incident. The accused was a trigger-happy person, he did not show any remorse,” she said.
Ramsamujh called for Ngcobo to be handed a life sentence and said the aggravating factors far outweighed the personal circumstances of the accused.
“There are no substantial or compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the minimum sentence in the murder count,” Ramsamujh said.
Ngcobo’s counsel had asked the court to deviate from the minimum sentence of life, citing that he had already spent three years in custody and had children that he was maintaining.
In the victim impact statement handed to the court by the State, the mother of the deceased, Thandiwe Mcwango, said her son was the sole breadwinner in the family, even though he was not permanently employed.
“He had three children and a fiancée who is unemployed, two of his children are school-going. All this had broken me,” she said.
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