Durban - A Durban High Court judge ruled on Wednesday that a confession which detailed how an insurance scam syndicate lured a man, plied him with alcohol and then stabbed him to death was made voluntarily.

The judge also ruled another confession inadmissible because the accused had given it in a room where she had seen a snakeskin and had felt threatened at the sight of it.

Judge Fikile Mokgohloa ruled that Sibusiso Buthelezi had not been coerced into making a statement to police.

Buthelezi, Maryanne Dimba and Linda Mdluli are charged with 49 charges including racketeering, fraud, theft and murder.

According to the indictment the trio gained access to people’s ID documents, and took out insurance policies using their details but named themselves as the beneficiaries. They would pick up people, murder them and then identify the bodies as those of the deceased policyholders and claim from the insurance companies.

Seven people were stabbed and one person was shot between 2005 and 2008. The identities of the deceased have not been established.

Judge Mokgohloa found that Buthelezi’s evidence that he had been forced to sign documents was a fabrication.

“Accused three (Buthelezi) testified that he was assaulted and his constitutional rights were not explained to him, but he confirmed that there was an interpreter present when he was questioned. He had an opportunity to report the assault when he appeared in court.”

In his confession Buthelezi said he, Dimba and Mdluli had lured a man from the Durban CBD, made him drunk and then stabbed him to death.

Buthelezi claimed he had been promised R15 000 for the murder but only received R5 000 from Mdluli.

Judge Mokgohloa ruled that a confession made by Mdluli was inadmissible because she had felt threatened. Mdluli had testified that she was afraid when she confessed because she was put in an office where she saw a snakeskin. “The detective who used the office confirmed that he also investigated crime involving endangered species,” the judge said.

She ruled that Dimba’s arrest and a subsequent search of her Joburg home were lawful.

Judgment continues on Thursday.

The Mercury