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By Chulumanco Mahamba

Digital Night Supervisor

Life sentences for quartet caught with corpse during Covid lockdown

Booysens Magistrate's Court handed down life sentences to four men for a murder committed during the strict Covid-19 lockdown in 2020.

Four men, who were found with a dead body after curfew during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, have been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder.

Recently, the Booysens Magistrate’s Court sentenced Ntokozo Mtshali, Vusi Ndlovu, Zakhele Hlongwane, and Melusi Malembe to life imprisonment for murder.

This comes after three Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) officers stopped a kombi early on 6 April 2020, when it was travelling through the Oakdene area.

Covid-19 lockdown level 5 confined every person to their homes

South Africa was under Covid-19 lockdown level 5 at the time, which confined every person to his or her home unless for the purpose of performing an essential service.

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Therefore, the car was pulled over to determine why the driver was driving during the lockdown.

NPA regional spokesperson Phindi Mjonondwane said that upon further examination of the kombi, it was found to contain a dead man’s body wrapped in plastic.

Mjonondwane said that at the scene, Mtshali, Ndlovu, Hlongwane, and Malembe could not explain the presence of a body in their kombi, and in court, they claimed there was a language barrier as they do not speak English.

“In court, they alleged that they were taking the deceased to the South Rand Hospital. When regional court prosecutor Mukhethwa Seaba cross-examined why they were driving facing the opposite direction of South Rand Hospital, they could not answer,” Mjonondwane said.

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Deceased allegedly stole taxi car battery

According to the NPA, the four accused admitted to hitting the deceased with open hands only because the deceased had stolen a car battery from a parked taxi at George Goch Hostel in Benrose.

Mtshali, Ndlovu, Hlongwane, and Malembe also admitted that while waiting for the owner of a taxi to arrive, they had tied the man to a tree. However, they claimed that the deceased had been attacked by the community. 

“During the sentence stage, the court ruled that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence; hence, life imprisonment was imposed against all four accused,” Mjonondwane said.

The NPA praised Seaba and Investigating Officer Constable Rahim Saidi for making sure that the four accused face the full force of the law for their crimes, and they welcomed the punishment.

ALSO READ: Four men sentenced to life imprisonment for murder and robbery

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