Xolani Mchunu (41) appeared in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on 24 November 2020, for kidnapping and killing his cousin Lerato Malembe (35) and was sentenced to 25 years imprisonment.
It is alleged that on 28 December 2018, Lerato Malembe was sleeping at his home in Odlameni Section, Swayimani when he heard a knock on the door from people claiming to be the police. The accused then broke the door open, entered the room with shining torches and started assaulting Malembe. He dragged Malembe to his vehicle and drove away to an unknown destination.
The matter was reported to police and a case of kidnaping was opened at Wartburg police station. On the same day at 08:30, a passer-by spotted the body hanging from a tree at Swayimani in Janokwe area and informed the police. The victim had serious injuries to his body and a case of murder was opened.
Sleepless nights by Wartburg detectives led to the arrest of the accused who was also found in possession of Malembe‘s bank cards and ID book. The accused made several court appearances until he was convicted and sentenced.
An intensive investigation revealed that during 2013, the deceased was involved in a motor vehicle accident and sustained serious injuries. The accused assisted the deceased in lodging a claim for damages from Road Accident Fund (RAF). The deceased received huge sums of money and the accused started stealing from him. He became aware that his cousin was stealing his money and confronted him, this infuriated the accused to plotting and killing Malembe.
The KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant General Khombinkosi Jula congratulated Wartburg detectives for their efforts in securing the sentence.“ It is sad when a family member turns on you and becomes your enemy. We pray and hope the sentence handed to the accused will help to comfort the family,” he said.
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