While the four men convicted for the murder of Wandile Bozwana were on Friday sentenced to an effective 30 year prison sentence each, both the court and the billionaire businessman’s family are still in the dark as to the motive for the “hit.”
Gauteng High Court, Pretoria Judge Papi Mosopa, during sentencing, commented that the killers - Sipho Patrick Hudla, Robert Mutapa, Mamelodi businessman Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela and Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo - never played open cards as to why Bozwana was killed.
During the marathon trial which started in June 2017, all four denied any involvement in the killing. They, however, opted not to take the stand in defense of their case before their convictions, nor did they testify before sentencing.
If they did take the stand, it would have left them open to questioning by the prosecution about who gave them the instruction to kill Bozwana as well as to the motive for the killing.
Bozwana died shortly after two gunmen opened fire at the car in which he was a passenger. Police found 11 bullets following the shooting on the afternoon of October 2015, at the Garsfontein N1 offramp in Pretoria.
His business associate, Mpho Baloyi, who went shopping with him earlier that day at Sandton City and was driving the car, was also injured, but she survived the ordeal.
Bozwana’s brother, Bheki Bozwana, after sentencing, said the family is satisfied with the sentence, as it will ensure that the four will remain in jail for a long time.
“We feel that justice has been done, although it does not bring our brother back.”
He said they are, however, not happy that those who had ordered his brother’s killing are still out there enjoying life.
In his sentencing, Judge Mosopa referred to the confessions by two of the accused, in which they said that Mathibela ordered them to kill Bozwana. The accused during the trial vehemently denied the confessions and said that they lied as they were tortured by the police.
The court, however, accepted the confessions as the truth.
Judge Mosopa said the court can still not comprehend what motivated the killing. He pointed out that Bozwana, who usually had his security guards with him, gave them off on the day he and Baloyi went to Sandton City.
He said all indications are that the accused knew he was without his bodyguards. The judge said this is clear when one looks at the confessions, which stated that Mathibela called his co-accused to Sandton City that day. There he pointed Bozwana out to them and told them to follow him.
Cellphone data also placed Mathibela in the area where Bozwana was shot. According to the confessions, Mathibela was also the one who had paid the others for the “job.”
“But this does not assist us to the motive, as the accused refused to testify, even after conviction,” the judge said.
While the murder fell under the ambit of the law which prescribed a life in prison sentence, the court did find a mitigating factor to warrant a lesser sentence. The judge questioned the fact that the accused were held in C-Max prison since their convictions in middle of 2022.
All the accused complained about the harsh circumstances, including being locked up for 23 hours a day. The judge said the Correctional Services Act did stipulate under which circumstances and for how long prisoners may be kept in isolation.
It did not make provision for such a long time in isolation. The judge said nobody placed any facts before the court to justify why the four were kept in C-Max all this time.
In addressing the impact of Bozwana’s murder on his family, the judge commented that his teenage daughter was the one who answered the call which informed the family of his death.
They were at the time packing their bags, as the family were on the way to Sun City for the school holidays. The judge said the four accused not only left the Bozwana family with hardships, but they did the same to their own families.
All four were involved in the taxi industry at the time and the breadwinners of their families. Mathibela owned several taxis and a security company where he employed hundreds of people, most of whom have since lost their jobs.
“You have no regard for human life. You deliberately fired 11 shots in the small vehicle. The deceased died a painful death,” the judge said shortly before he meted out his sentence.
Mathibela, once described Mamelodi’s number one tsotsi by Police Minister Bheki Cele, was dressed smartly for the occasion in a cream suit, did not show any emotion during sentencing.
Afterwards he turned to the public gallery to search for his family and gave them a small smile before he went to the holding cells to start serving his sentence.