A Durban man has escaped with a suspended sentence after confessing to killing a man who made unwanted sexual advances on him and kissed him.
Nkosinathi Madlala, 27, was on Thursday sentenced to a 10-year suspended sentence on a charge of culpable homicide for striking Sduduzo Buthelezi once on the neck, and admitting to disposing of his body. Buthelezi’s body was later found dumped near a river in Chatsworth.
Faced with the challenge that no one except Madlala knew what had happened the night Buthelezi died, as there were no witnesses to counter Madlala’s version of events, the state and the court had no reason to doubt his evidence.
“He started touching me and pulling me towards him. I reprimanded him and told him to stop. He continued. He was caressing my left thigh in an upward and downward motion. He was also touching my beard and caressing my neck. While doing this he was talking, asking me if we could become lovers,” said Madlala in his plea statement read in court.
Madlala, who worked as a graphic designer at a signage company in Clairwood, said he knew Buthelezi as a client for whom he had designed car stickers in 2017. He said Buthelezi had returned to his workplace some time later and offered him a lift home to Chatsworth.
When they arrived at his drop-off point, Buthelezi suggested they get drinks from a nearby liquor outlet, which they did. While on their first drink he noticed Buthelezi was pretending to be drunk.
Before they could finish the drinks, Buthelezi suggested they buy more alcohol. Madlala suggested they call it a day, and Buthelezi said he was worried about finding his way out of Chatsworth since he was not from the area.
“He asked me to show him to Higginson Highway. I felt that it was better if I drive him to the highway and show him because it was not far. On the way, while I drove, he started touching me.
“This happened while the car was moving and I could not use my hands to ward him off as I had to concentrate on the road.”
He said he told Buthelezi he had a girlfriend and a child.
“I told him that I was sorry if I had given him the wrong impression. I felt him kissing me on the chin. I pushed him away. He then faced upward and laughed at me. I felt embarrassed and humiliated by his actions and laughter. I struck him once on the neck with my left hand. My blow was not specifically directed to his neck.
“After I struck him he sat still and remained quiet. I called out his name at least three times but he did not respond.”
Madlala said he noticed that Buthelezi’s eyes were wide open.
“I shook him for a while, but he did not respond,” he said.
Madlala said he drove around, hoping that Buthelezi would wake up, but he did not.
“At this point it dawned on me that he was dead. I was scared and did not know what to do. I decided to dump the body at a place where it would be found, near the river.”
He then gave Buthelezi’s car to a friend to get rid of.
“I admit that I ought to have foreseen the possibility of him dying as a result of being hit in the neck,” he said.
The friend found in possession of Buthelezi’s car led the police to him.
According to the post mortem report, the cause of death was blunt neck trauma or as a result of mild strangulation.
Prosecutor Danito McDonald admitted that no one else knew what had happened and that Madlala’s version might be accepted. However, he argued that his actions were criminal.
Madlala’s attorney, Nkosingiphile Mlotshwa, asked the court to consider that Madlala had pleaded guilty and had taken the court into his confidence.
Judge Shyam Gyanda said Madlala had reacted in a way that any other person in his situation would have.
“You are a first offender. The State had suggested a short imprisonment term to pay for your actions and thereafter a correctional supervision term.
“In my view this would not help, but would expose you to further criminality,” he said, giving him a suspended sentence and ordering him to attend anger management classes and to do 40 hours of community service a month for three years.