Man accused of mutilating murder victim claims innocence

Slain Thulasizwe Khayelihle “The Gentleman” Hlophe was kidnapped from an Inanda night club and had his face mutilated and burned allegedly by 22-year-old Sphamandla “Spha” Nethisa. Picture: Supplied

Slain Thulasizwe Khayelihle “The Gentleman” Hlophe was kidnapped from an Inanda night club and had his face mutilated and burned allegedly by 22-year-old Sphamandla “Spha” Nethisa. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 29, 2024


Durban — The man charged with kidnapping and murdering his victim and then mutilating and burning the body before throwing it off a cliff claims that he did not partake in the murder.

On Friday, Sphamandla “Spha” Nethisa, 22, revealed this in his not-guilty explanation at the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.

Nethisa appeared in court, where it had been expected that should he not show up again, his bail would be forfeited to the State and his warrant of arrest authorised to be executed by the police.

He had failed to appear in court on the occasion before Friday.

In court, he said that he was unable to attend court previously because he had gone to visit friends, and because a bridge was damaged due inclement weather he could not cross over to get to his house, where his mother was waiting to go to court with him.

Nethisa is accused of killing of Thulasizwe Khayelihle “The Gentleman” Hlophe, who was allegedly kidnapped, bundled into his Kia Picanto, and taken to Amatata location in Inanda in 2022.

Hlophe was allegedly kidnapped from outside Under The Moon Lounge in Inanda, where he had gone with his friends, gqom musicians Madanon as well as Babes Wodumo.

It’s alleged that Hlophe was stabbed and killed and his body taken to Nguzi area near Mbeka Primary School, where his face, neck, and body were mutilated and burnt to make him unrecognisable and it was then thrown off a cliff.

Besides his car that was taken, his cellphone and Nike sneakers were also allegedly stolen.

Nethisa is charged with murder, kidnapping, and robbery with aggravated circumstances as well as defeating or obstructing the course of justice. He is currently out on R1 500 bail.

If he is found guilty of robbery with aggravated circumstances he faces a minimum sentence of 15 years if he is a first-time offender. However, if he has been previously convicted of a similar charge the court cannot deviate from the minimum sentence of 20 years.

If convicted of murder he could face life imprisonment.

The 22-year-old’s additional count is that of contravening regulation promulgated in terms of section 90 (1) read with section 68 (1) of the National Health Act 61 of 2003.

“The State alleges that on 11 June 2022 at Nguzi near Mbeka Primary School, Amatata Area in Inanda the accused who was not permitted by or under any law acquire tissue of a deceased person, Steven Thulasizwe Hlophe, in a manner not provided for or for a purpose other than those permitted for in terms of the National Health Act 61 of 2003 and its regulation by removing the facial structures including face, skin, nose, ears and soft tissues of the face and neck of Hlophe after killing him,” alleges the State.

The court accepted Nethisa’s explanation as to why he could not be in court, following which the State made an application to not have the accused live with his mother, who is a State witness.

“I am making this application because the accused’s mother is a vital State witness, you can see that they travel to court together,” said State prosecutor Kaystree Ramsamujh.

The application was dismissed on grounds that the issue should have been raised and dealt with at the time of Nethisa's bail application. The duo were then cautioned by the court that they must not collude in any way, otherwise the accused’s bail would be cancelled.

At the time of his bail application, Nethisa did provide an alternative address which he currently does not reside in.

Following this application the pre-trial proceeded, where Nethisa indicated that his intended plea was that of not guilty and he said: “I was a participant in that I was the driver of the vehicle, but I did not participate in the robbery, I was under duress. I don’t know anything about the killing and kidnapping.”

The matter was adjourned for trial in March.

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