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Ten years behind bars for 34-year-old political killing

The Durban Magistrate’s Court has sentenced Gugulethu Wesley “Matiri” Madonsela to 10 years’ imprisonment for the 1989 murder of a teen political activist.

The Durban Magistrate’s Court has sentenced Gugulethu Wesley “Matiri” Madonsela to 10 years’ imprisonment for the 1989 murder of a teen political activist.

Published Nov 9, 2023


Durban – The man convicted of killing an activist with the United Democratic Front (UDF), which was affiliated with the ANC, 34 years ago has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for the murder.

On Thursday, acting Magistrate BK Khumalo sentenced Gugulethu Wesley “Matiri” Madonsela, 52, for the February 1989 murder of Siphelele Nxumalo, who died from multiple gunshot wounds in Chesterville.

Madonsela was alleged by the State to have been affiliated with an A-Team that worked with the Natal Security Branch.

Evidence that the court has heard from a witness was that Madonsela and three other friends approached Nxumalo, who was standing with his girlfriend. Two of the four including Madonsela pulled out guns and fired at Nxumalo.

When the teen was down on the ground the two shooters went closer to him and continued shooting while the witness, Nxumalo’s girlfriend, Phumelele Miya, watched from the bush she had hidden behind.

Madonsela’s attorney, Bongani Cele, on Wednesday in mitigation of sentence asked that the court hand his client a non-custodial sentence.

“Msimango mentioned that this matter is politically related and the court did not query. There was no evidence before the court in that regard, why was the accused not subpoenaed to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission? There is nothing to suggest he was ever subpoenaed and he failed to appear. One wonders why this was not revealed to defence from the beginning, there is no evidence saying the matter is politically related,” said Cele.

Senior State advocate X Msimango asked that he serve a term of direct imprisonment.

“The offence is serious, the deceased’s family was deprived of the right to stay with their family member. He was killed at the young age of 17, at that time he had two children both of them girls. It became a burden on the side of the deceased’s mom as she had to ensure they were supported. Now those two children have children of their own and the deceased now has six grandchildren.”

As part of his substantial and compelling circumstances, it was submitted that Madonsela was married, had two children, was gainfully employed as a protection official with the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa), and that his elderly mother was sickly and needed to be looked after.

“The deceased’s mother is relatively old, she would be benefiting from the work of her son if he was not killed by the accused, he would be ensuring that she is taken to the doctor when she is sick like the accused’s mom,” said Msimango.

He added that during the trial, Miya testified that the Nxumalo family was somehow involved with the ANC, but she had no details.

“Cele personally knows about Chesterville and the history of political killings there back then. People were never subpoenaed to appear before the TRC, they were coming forward but the accused did not.”

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