Hitmen's driver is jailed
A KwaZulu-Natal man has jailed for 18 years for his role in the murder of a National Freedom Party (NFP) councillor.
Khawulani Mkhize, 28, who, pleaded guilty to murder, was paid R5,000 to drive two men he claimed killed 48-year-old Isaac Thulebona Nhlebela.
Nhlebela was shot dead on the road between Nqutu and Dundee in northern KwaZulu-Natal in July.
The Pietermaritzburg High Court was told that Mkhize drove two men, identified only as Madondo and Nyambose, to the crime scene.
Mkhize, whose statement was read to the court as part of his confession, said he had been instructed to pick up Madondo and Nyambose and to follow Nhlebela’s car.
When Nhlebela stopped to open a gate, Nyambose and Madondo alighted. When they returned later Mkhize said he heard Nyambose tell someone on his cellphone that “everything was right”.
The State claims two NFP members, Felamandla Mkhize and Mkhonzeni Ntuli, who were having a dispute with Nhlebela, hired the three.
Acting Judge MT Ncube said Mkhize had been caught up in a “scramble for high political position” in the Pomeroy area of Msinga in July this year.
Ncube found substantial and compelling reasons to depart from the prescribed sentence of life in jail for a premeditated murder committed by a gang.
The court said Mkhize was a first offender, had pleaded guilty, had co-operated with the police when arrested, and indicated he would testify against his co-accused — the two gunmen and the two NFP members.
Mkhize, a father of four, confessed to the police about the murder after they stopped him last Friday in Pomeroy, on suspicion that he was in possession of a stolen vehicle.