Friends on their way to buy cocaine kill e-hailing driver over fee spat



Published Dec 8, 2022


Durban - Two KwaZulu-Natal men, who pleaded guilty to shooting and killing a e-hailing driver last month, have been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

In the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday, Nkosinathi Mathobela, 25, and Kwanele Buthelezi, 21, pleaded guilty to the murder of Thabani Reginal Sibisi.

Judge Kate Pillay convicted them on counts of murder, illegal possession of a firearm and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

On the evening of November 21, 2022, the men had been drinking vodka at a tavern in Pietermaritzburg.

Buthelezi said that during the early hours of the next morning, they decided to get cocaine, so he summoned a metered taxi, using his cellphone.

He said he first needed to get money from his home in Westgate for the cocaine.

Buthelezi said Sibisi, 32, arrived in his Toyota Etios to transport them.

Mathobela said he sat in the front passenger seat and Buthelezi behind the driver’s seat.

He said Sibisi had asked them to pay upfront for the trip, but when they told him they would pay him when they reached their destination, he asked them to jump out of the car.

Mathobela said they became embroiled in a physical fight with the e-hailing driver.

He said his friend took out a firearm, which belonged to him.

Mathobela said he had purchased the gun for about R3 500 illegally.

He said a scuffle ensued.

Mathobela told the court that the driver had tried to remove the firearm from Buthelezi and the gun fell.

Mathobela said he eventually got a hold of the gun and during the fight, shot the driver in the head.

“After being shot, the deceased collapsed on the driver’s seat, with his head and shoulders leaning against the window of the vehicle. He was in a slouching position.”

He said Buthelezi opened the door and the deceased fell out.

The duo decided to steal the car and whatever other valuables they could find.

Mathobela said that when they made a U-turn with the car, they ran over the deceased. Buthelezi had been driving.

A security company vehicle patrolling nearby immediately followed the Etios and chased after it until the accused stopped the motor vehicle at the Pietermaritzburg Market Square.

Mathobela said they tried to flee on foot but were soon apprehended.

He said he threw the firearm in the bin, but it was soon recovered and they were taken to a police station and charged.

Both accused are first offenders.

Senior State Advocate Candy Kander presented the court with a victim impact statement from the deceased’s aunt, Nonhlanhla Ngcobo, in which she described the family’s loss.

“His passing hurt me a lot. Thabani was a kind person, he was a peaceful person. He only retaliated when he was attacked but he never used a weapon.

“He was the sole breadwinner; I don’t know how we will survive.

‘“He had two children that he also maintained. We have all experienced such a loss as a family. I cannot sleep at night because of fear. I cannot seem to erase his tragic death off my mind.”