Immigrant shopkeepers in Osizweni, Newcastle, say they are relieved that two men have been convicted of murdering two Bangladeshi businessmen in the township in October last year, GroundUp reports.
Osizweni police spokesperson Captain Sipho Nkosi said Mongezi Sibaya, 28, and Mbongiseni Zulu, 25, were given life sentences for the murders of Mosharaf Hosain and Limor Mir, and 15 years each for robbery with aggravating circumstances in the Madadeni Regional Court on August 15.
Sibaya and Zulu were arrested in October along with Mavis Nkosi, who was arrested for defeating the ends of justice. She was found washing the blood-stained clothes of the murderers. Nkosi, however, died of natural causes in December.
Hosain, 33, and Mir, 25, worked as partners in a rented store in Osizweni Section C. They were stabbed to death and their throats were slit during a robbery in the early hours of October 25, 2018.
The brutal murders followed a spate of violent robberies of immigrant-owned shops in Osizweni, leaving immigrant shopkeepers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Somalia, and Ethiopia worried about their safety. Many closed their shops.
Hocine Uddin, of Bangladesh, said: “We have been living in fear since the violent robbery attacks began around August last year… We are satisfied with the sentences given by the court. They truly deserve the sentences, because they were cruel and heartless to kill our brothers in that brutal manner.”
Uddin, who has lived in Newcastle for six years and has three children, said he was on the verge of closing his rented store, but after learning about the murder suspects’ arrests he changed his mind.
“Following their arrests, the robbery attacks subsided in this township,” he said.
Ward 8 Councillor Vukile Kubheka said: “We condemn violent robbery attacks against immigrant business people in our area… We have worked hand-in-hand as community members with the local police to stop the scourge which, unfortunately, claimed the lives of two Bangladeshi businessmen… We are happy that the attacks have stopped, and the perpetrators have been convicted and got the sentences they deserve.”