Pastor found guilty of murder

A self-proclaimed Mpumalanga pastor was found guilty on Thursday of beating a suspected thief to death with a pick-axe handle.

During his appearance in the Nelspruit Regional Court, Mandla Dube, 46, from Mganduzweni Trust outside Hazyview, was found guilty of killing Sabelo Mlombo, 27, on September 11, 2011.

Dube, who was also a technical manager for community projects in the Mpumalanga co-operative governance department, had pleaded not guilty to murder, a Sapa correspondent reported.

On Thursday, the court heard that Mlombo was beaten after being accused of stealing Dube's 7000 litre water tank.

Magistrate Willie Wilkens said the court found beyond a reasonable doubt that Dube had caused the injuries which resulted in Mlombo's death.

"The court is impressed with the evidence from the witness, who is the deceased's uncle Samson Mthembu, who witnessed the assault at your house at around 4am that day," Wilkens said.

"It was clear Mthembu had no intention to implicate you in the murder. He said he watched the incident and he could not bear to watch when you severely assaulted the deceased using a pick handle.

"He was scared to intervene. He said you were his neighbour for nine years."

The magistrate said Mthembu's version was corroborated by the doctor, who conducted the post mortem.

"The doctor confirmed the two fractures on the deceased's neck and left forearm were as the result of some beating with a pick handle, and great force was applied.

"He said such injuries can be compared to those sustained by car accident victims," Wilkens said.

Constable Dorcas Ngomane, from the Hazyview police station, testified that when Dube and three other men brought Mlombo to the police station at 7.30am that day, he was severely injured.

"The officer said the deceased spoke slowly, asking for water. He had blood on his head, which flowed down his face. There was also more blood on his T-shirt. They called an ambulance, which took him to hospital," Wilkens said.

He said Dube and witness Michael Madondo testified that Mlombo was beaten slightly with a broomstick, and that his death was the result of falling into a two-metre deep donga.

"You could have foreseen the possibility that the man could die, but you continued beating him. Therefore you are found guilty of murder as charged," Wilkens told Dube.

The magistrate revealed that Dube had two previous convictions: one for assault from 2005 where he was fined R3500 or 90 days in jail; and another for fraud, receiving a R300 fine or six months imprisonment.

Wilkens postponed the case to Monday for sentencing.

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