Ex-husband sentenced to 22 years in prison over murder of Pietermaritzburg gospel singer

Late Pietermaritzburg gospel singer Delana Rawlins

Late Pietermaritzburg gospel singer Delana Rawlins who was gunned down by her ex-husband Ian Rawlins in May 2023. Picture: Facebook

Published Mar 26, 2024


The ex-husband of Pietermaritzburg gospel singer Delana Carmen Rawlins, who was murdered in May last year, was sentenced to 22 years imprisonment for her murder in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday.

This comes after Ian, 48, pleaded guilty to the crime.

At the time of the murder, “The Mercury” reported that shortly after the incident, a manhunt was launched by police before Ian handed himself in.

According to National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, in his plea Rawlins had stated that on the day of the incident, May 13, 2023, he attended a party with Delana in Ashburton outside Pietermaritzburg.

She said the accused had gone shopping the day before with his ex-wife and bought her an outfit for the party.

“He said that although they had gotten divorced a month prior (April 2023), they were discussing reconciliation and a possible resumption of their previous relationship.”

However, Rawlins said while at the party, male guests were talking about Delana being in a relationship with another man.

“This angered him and he confronted her, causing an argument which became loud and led to them being asked to leave the party. They left the party, and he drove his car in convoy behind Delana who was driving in another vehicle in front of him.”

Ramkisson-Kara said they stopped their cars at some point, and Ian walked over to the other car, and they began arguing again.

“He demanded that she return the clothes he had bought her. Since she was wearing these clothes, he pulled on her top and pants. He said that he walked away and then realised that Delana had his house keys. So, he went back to the other car.”

According to the NPA, Delana refused to give him the car keys and at that point, he lost his temper and drew his firearm to threaten her.

“However, he pushed the firearm through the car window and discharged it, continuously firing shots until the firearm was no longer capable of discharging any shots.”

Ramkisson-Kara said the accused did not recall how many shots were fired, but did not dispute that at least twelve shots were fired at Delana.

She said after the shooting, Rawlins drove to the Pietermaritzburg municipal dump, where he sat in his car trying to figure out what to do.

“He said that he then phoned his attorney who assisted him, and he handed himself over to the Alexandra police station.”

In his plea, Rawlins said he was unable to control his temper and fired his gun in the heat of the moment. He denied that his actions were premeditated or planned.

Ramkisson-Kara said, he had also stated that his relationship with Delana during their marriage was tumultuous, characterised by frequent violent arguments which resulted in Delana obtaining four protection orders against him.

“Rawlins admitted that Delana had been the subject of physical abuse caused by him. He told the court that he was remorseful for his actions.”

State Advocate Deelan Naidoo handed in Victim Impact Statements compiled by Delana's daughter and mother, and facilitated by Court Preparation Officer Imbali Komane in aggravation of the sentence.

In her statement, Delana's mother said that Rawlins' actions had affected their family as well as the community at large. The mother said that she cannot sleep and constantly lives in fear.

One of Delana's three daughters said she felt bad when her friends talked about their mother. “She said that Rawlins had always abused their mother and they had witnessed this often.”

Ramkisson-Kara said the court also found Rawlins unfit to possess a firearm.

“The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the successful finalisation of this matter. Our attitude towards the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide is one of zero tolerance. We hope that this sentence will deter like-minded individuals and we commend the work done by the Prosecution and SAPS.”

The Mercury