Former US Marine admits he strangled man in SA town to fake his own death
"In all the 23 years I have been a soldier, I never killed anyone. But it is now - here, away from my country - that I made a stupid mistake," a retired American military man said on Tuesday as he prepared to be sentenced for faking his death in an insurance fraud.
Karl Kamal Rashid was believed to have died when his burnt-out Volvo containing the charred remains of a body was discovered in 2011 in Sterkspruit, a small town in the Eastern Cape. Rashid’s watch was strapped to the corpse's wrist.
But he was later arrested when he was found living in a Free State flat rented under the name of his wife, formerly in the SA Air Force. Claims had been made against various life insurance policies taken out in his name.
The couple married in Florida in the US in 2002 but subsequently moved to her home town of Sterkspruit.
The 57-year-old Rashid was convicted on a charge of murder and three counts of fraud.
He has been behind bars since 2012, when he was denied bail.
On Tuesday, ahead of sentencing in the Mthatha High Court, Rashid broke down and apologised to the United States and South African governments.
The former US marine, who initially pleaded not guilty to all charges, on Tuesday confessed to strangling a man.
Rashid then set his car alight with the man's corpse inside and disappeared, hoping investigators would believe he had been killed in the fire. He also wrote a suicide note before disappearing. It is unclear who the victim was.
Apologising to the two governments and Sterkspruit residents, he said from the dock: "I made a stupid mistake and I apologise to the government of the Republic of South Africa, my home country, the USA, and the people of the city of Sterkspruit.
"I ask for forgiveness. I am sorry."
State prosecutor Sibusiso Nolutshungu said Rashid's pleas amounted to crocodile tears.
"You are not remorseful ... Since 2011 you have been saying you are innocent, but it is only now when you are about to be sentenced that you confess to the commission of the crime that you strangled a man, set your vehicle alight and faked your death to claim insurance.
“You are just acting that you are remorseful. You are not remorseful,” he said.
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