The Pietermaritzburg High Court sentenced Ayanda Siyanda Mshengu to an effective 25-year imprisonment for the two murders and one attempted murder he committed in August 2019, in the Estcourt area. One of the deceased, Mthembeni Excellent Majola was a ward councillor for the local branch of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in Estcourt. The party was divided into two opposing factions and there was animosity between the factions. Majola was the leader of one of the factions, and members of the opposing faction wanted him dead. There had been previous attempts on his life which had rendered him a paraplegic. On the day of the incident Majola was driving on the R105 highway in the Estcourt area and he was accompanied by his minor nephew, and Sithembiso Promise Mahlinza. At some point in their journey a car pulled up alongside their vehicle and the occupants, Mshengu being one of them, fired at Majola’s vehicle killing him and Mahlinza. They died of multiple gunshot wounds and Mshengu was arrested after police traced him in Soweto.

In court, Advocates Lawrence Gcaba, Elvis Gcweka and Nhlanhla Shange represented the state. They led the evidence of the police officials who arrested Mshengu as well as the confession and pointing he made upon his arrest. Even though Mshengu later denied the confession and pointed it out in court, the state-led evidence convinced the court to accept his evidence. The evidence of the Majola’s nephew was also led. The state handed in Victim Impact Statements compiled by Majola’s loved ones and facilitated by Court Preparation Officer, Mbalenhle Valencia Komane. The statements mentioned that Majola was a kind and generous person who took care of his family as well as members of the community. They said that his death had left a void in their lives. Mshengu was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment for Majola’s murder, 20 years imprisonment for Mahlinza’s murder and 5 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of Majola’s nephew. The court deviated from the minimum sentence of life imprisonment for the murders as the court believed that Mshengu showed remorse by making the initial confession. Since the sentences will run concurrently, he will serve an effective 25-year imprisonment.

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the sentence, and we commend the successful partnership between the Prosecution and the Political Task Team. Political killings are rife in KZN, and we hope that sentences of this nature will deter like-minded individuals. The NPA and its partners are determined to bring perpetrators to account for their actions.

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