‘I hope he dies in jail’
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“I wish he was dead” - that was the feeling of some of the relatives of sugar cane serial killer Thozamile Taki who was convicted in the Durban High Court on Thursday.
“Guilty on all charges” was the long-awaited verdict.
Taki, who left the dock with a smirk, faces possible life imprisonment after being convicted of 13 counts of murder and 13 counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances.
In a surprise turn, Taki’s former girlfriend, Hlengiwe Nene, who was charged as an accessory after the fact in connection with the robbery charges, was found not guilty.
Nene could not hold back her tears after she was released and comforted by her sisters.
“I cannot believe it, I’m still in shock. I will go home and pray to thank the Lord,” she said.
Nene would not talk about her 10-month relationship with Taki but said: “He taught me a lesson in dating.”
The State had accused her of using cellphones from some of the victims which Taki had given her.
Her sister, Nonkululeko, said her family had been waiting for the verdict for a long time.
“Our mother could not even cry any more. We are happy that the court was able to prove she is not the person that everybody seems to think she is.”
Survivor Dudu Nthetha, who escaped death after turning down Taki’s job offer, said she could now put the incident behind her.
Nthetha became suspicious of Taki after her friend, Nombali Ngcobo, disappeared after accepting Taki’s job offer.
Bongi Mgobhozi, the sister of another victim, Makhosi, said she hoped Taki would die in jail and that Nene could go home and spend time with her children. “We saw her family and it affected us that she was a mother; she didn’t spill any blood so she can go home and spend time with her kids.”
Victim Nozibele Mjoli’s mother, MaMashiya Mjoli, said: “I actually wish he was dead. One of my daughter’s children, who was one year old when her mom died, actually told me to ask Taki to bring back her mother.”
Eleven women were killed in sugar cane fields at Umzinto on the South Coast and two women in tea plantations in the Eastern Cape in 2007.
Taki posed as an employment agent and lured the women with the promise of high-paying jobs. He stole their personal belongings including clothing, cellphones and cash, before killing them.
Judge Ndlovu said it was common cause that the victims had been killed in similar circumstances and dumped.
He said Taki’s “bare and bold” denial of his involvement was unsubstantiated.
Taki’s alibi, that he was in the Eastern Cape at the time of one of the murders, was a false story made up by Taki and a relative who testified on his behalf.
“The person who lured people, robbed them and then killed them was Thozamile Taki. He operated using the modus operandi of a so-called serial killer.”
Judge Ndlovu said the State’s averment that Nene had known of the robberies and took possession of the cellphones to assist Taki to evade justice had not been proven.
The case was adjourned to next week for mitigation of sentence by the defence. Taki was remanded and Nene was released. - The Mercury