Mother rejects son's killers' plea for forgiveness
'Show them no mercy'
A Port Elizabeth prosecutor struggled to hold back the tears as the shattered mother of a first-year paramedic student – murdered after he and his companion were hijacked and kidnapped – testified about the impact of her son’s death on the family.
Ngolovena Maureen Ngwekazi, 46, who was begged for forgiveness by one of the young killers, rejected his apology, appealing to the court instead to show no mercy when handing down sentence.
Testifying in aggravation of sentence in the Port Elizabeth High Court on Thursday, Ngwekazi, who is from Durban, said the callous murder of her only child, Thabang, 28, had devastated the family.
“He was everything to the family,” she said emotionally.
“[Thabang] passed away in August  – in October [that year], my brother passed away following the passing of Thabang.
“It destroyed [my brother] – he was broken, he was angry.”
Thulani Jusaya, 20, and an 18-year-old who cannot be named as per a previous court order, were convicted in February of the August 13 2016 murder of Thabang, the kidnapping of him and his then 22-year-old friend, as well as robbery with aggravating circumstances, among other charges.
Thabang was shot execution-style at Brighton Beach after he and his friend, who is not being named as she is the victim of a sex crime, were hijacked while parked in Prince Alfred Street, North End.
They were forced into the boot of Thabang’s VW Polo and driven to Brighton Beach, where Jusaya and a man only identified as Fish – who has subsequently died – raped his companion before shooting Thabang in the head and dumping his body in the sea.
The 18-year-old, though convicted on the charge of murder, was not present at the time of the rape and murder.
During her heart-wrenching testimony, Ngwekazi said she found the actions of the two convicted killers to be “merciless and heartless”.
“[On Wednesday] I visited the scene where Thabang’s body was found.
“How can you kill someone and throw their body in the sea?” she asked.
“I imagined flashes of a bullet going through a head and I drew a picture of someone on their knees praying not to die for something they had not done.”
Describing her trauma on learning of her son’s death, Ngwekazi tried bravely to fight back the tears as she told the court that it felt as if her world had ended.
“It hurt so bad that I asked myself a number of questions like, with Thabang gone as a pillar of strength, who am I left with – my world had become so small.
“Thabang’s passing has killed and shattered the family.
“[Thabang] was a good and respectful child.
“He was well-behaved and always looked forward to a brighter future.
“He was determined to go further with education and wanted to uplift the family name,” she said.
Thabang was studying on a scholarship at Nelson Mandela University to be a paramedic.
Ngwekazi said he had a part-time job and supplemented her income and paid towards the upbringing of his now four-year-old daughter, who lives in Cradock with her mother.
“I always had it in my mind that this year or early next year I would be coming to Port Elizabeth to celebrate [Thabang’s] graduation,” Ngwekazi said, wiping away tears. “I would appeal to the court not to show mercy to the accused.”
After her testimony, the two convicted of her son’s murder asked the court to allow them to address Ngwekazi.
Judge Elna Revelas allowed the request after Ngwekazi indicated she would be willing to listen to them.
Addressing Ngwekazi, the 18-year-old introduced himself by name and admitted his involvement in the crime.
“Even though I did not kill [Thabang] I will offer my apologies to you,” he said.
“I am apologising because I never foresaw our actions that day would land us here today.
“Again I am apologising, I had not thought a soul would be lost in the commission of the crimes I committed.”
Jusaya admitted to Ngwekazi that he was present during the crimes.
“It was never a desire that a soul should be lost.
“Be that as it may, I wish to tender an apology to you for what I did to your child.
“I will never find inner peace if I firstly cannot be forgiven by you,” Jusaya said.
A clearly distraught Ngwekazi looked directly at Jusaya and replied: “I cannot forgive you. Not for now – perhaps some day, but not now.”
Registered clinical psychologist Professor Louise Stroud said the impact on Thabang’s friend had been severe and irreversible.
“There are still two critical issues that need to be dealt with – that she was raped with Thabang present [and] watching Thabang being shot,” Stroud said.
According to Stroud, the woman – who now lives with her parents in Polokwane – suffered internal wounds and scarring that would never go away.
Revelas found the 18-yearold guilty on two counts of kidnapping, two of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and murder, because she found he could have foreseen his actions could have led to the murder of one or both of the people he had forced, at gunpoint, into the boot of the Polo.
Revelas said in her judgment it had been proven beyond reasonable doubt that the woman was raped by both Jusaya and Fish before being driven to St George’s Strand, where she was forced to shower in the open public facilities to wash away any DNA evidence.
In his plea explanation, Jusaya admitted that he had forced the woman to clean herself, even going so far as to do it himself.
She was then driven to Central where she was forced, with a gun to her head, to perform oral sex on Jusaya before she was set free.
Jusaya was convicted on the same charges as the 18-yearold and an additional two counts of rape.
Arguing in mitigation of sentence, advocates Eric Skepe and Khaya Saziwa for the 18year-old and Jusaya, respectively, asked the court to consider the fact that both men were very young at the time – Jusaya had turned 18 two days before the incident while the other man was only 16 at the time.
They conceded that their clients had been convicted of serious crimes, but asked that it be taken into consideration that they had both been under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
However, state prosecutor Megan September, who was visibly emotional during the mother’s testimony, said neither of the men had acted as children on the day, describing the offences as brutal, vicious and violent.
“These are the actions of adults,” she said.
“The court should not look at them as immature at the time of the offences.
“They are youths but their actions were vicious.”
It was obvious during the tea break later that September had battled to hold back the tears in court.
Sentencing is expected to be handed down on Thursday next week.