A former whoonga dealer who admitted involvement in the murder of six “opposition” drug dealers in January this year was jailed effectively for 30 years on Friday.
A seventh victim survived the massacre, which took place in Georgedale near Camperdown on January 20.
Sentencing Sisanda “Chocolate” Mvinjana (22) on Friday, Judge Piet Bezuidenhout said the murders were each deserving of life sentences.
However, he said the other perpetrators of the murders must also be punished and state advocate Mbongeni Mthembu had said that Mvinjana’s assistance was required to bring them to book.
He therefore agreed with defence lawyer Lauren Marais that the fact that Mvinjana pleaded guilty, showed remorse and had indicated his willingness to help police and the prosecution and to testify against the other killers justified sentences of less than life imprisonment.
Judge Bezuidenhout said, however, the crimes were “heinous”.
“The wave of senseless killings in this country because people disagree, or in the course of robberies, must stop. It must be brought home to such people that they will be dealt with harshly by the courts,” he said.
He sentenced Mvinjana to 30 years’ imprisonment for each of the six murders and to 10 years’ imprisonment for attempted murder but ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
The murder victims included four men — Sibonakaliso Khubeka (26), Sphamandla Mavundla (29), Siphelele Denge (36) and Mcebisi Gondo (28); and two women — Hlengiwe Dubazane (48) and Nonhlanhla Mthalane (22).
The man who survived the attack was Bongani Ntuli.
In his guilty plea, Mvinjana said before the incident he had received information about people from a certain house in the area who were selling whoonga.
“I was a former drug dealer in the area and when I stopped selling, my friend Thabani took over. I became very angry because this territory now belonged to him. In other words he was the only person who was entitled to sell that particular drug in this area,” said Mvinjana.
He said on the day of the massacre, Thabani and two other men arrived at his home to vent their frustration and they had all decided to “put an end to this”. After arming themselves with guns they went to the victims’ home.
“I knocked at the door and when somebody opened we all pushed ourselves inside. I immediately grabbed the person closest to me and noticed that there were several other people in this room and they were all smoking the drug whoonga. This angered me so I pointed my firearm at him and instructed these people to stop selling whoonga in this area.
“Whilst doing so I heard a gunshot go off. At that stage I shot this person three times causing him to fall to the floor. My companions then shot the rest of the people in that room. A total of seven of them were shot by us. We then fled the scene,” he said.
Mvinjana said when police arrested him on February 17 he immediately admitted his guilt.