The Pietermaritzburg High Court sentenced Nkosinathi Mathobela (25) and Kwanele Buthelezi (21) to an effective 30 years imprisonment after they pleaded guilty to the murder of e-hailing taxi driver, Thabani Sibisi (32) last month in the Pietermaritzburg CBD. The men were good friends and had spent the night consuming alcohol at a tavern. In the early hours of 22 November 2022, they decided to call a metered taxi even though they did not have money to pay for the ride. Buthelezi did this via an app on his cellphone.

In their plea, they said that when Sibisi arrived, he asked them to pay upfront, however they told him that they will pay him at the end of their trip. An argument ensued and Sibisi asked them to get off the car. Buthelezi then produced a firearm to shoot at Sibisi. However, the firearm ended up with Mathobela who pulled the trigger, shooting Sibisi in the head. The men then pushed his body out of the car and drove off. They made a U-turn and on the way back they drove over Sibisi’s body. They were seen by members of a private security company who followed them and effected their arrest.

In court, Senior State Advocate Candy Kander, handed in Victim Impact Statements compiled by Sibisi’s aunt and his boss. The statements were facilitated by Court Preparation Officer Mbalenhle Komane. In her statement, his aunt said that she cannot recover from losing him as he was a kind and peace-loving person. He was the sole bread-winner of their family. Sibisi’s boss described him as an honest, loyal and respectful employee.

In sentencing them, the court deviated from the minimum sentence for murder which is life imprisonment, due to them being first time offenders and pleading guilty. The court also found them remorseful. They were thus sentenced to 30 years imprisonment for murder, 15 years for robbery and 15 years for unlawful possession of a firearm. They will serve an effective 30 years imprisonment.

The NPA welcomes the swift finalisation of this matter and commends the work done by the prosecutor and the investigating team.

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