National 20.9.2016 04:41 pm

Justice still to be served in beheading cases

The area where Desiree Murugan's body was found. Picture: Rising Sun Chatsworth.

The area where Desiree Murugan's body was found. Picture: Rising Sun Chatsworth.

As police in Pretoria search for a man’s missing head, justice is still to be served to five of the six accused of beheading KZN woman Desiree Murugan in 2014.

Police continue to appeal for assistance in finding the head of a man whose decapitated body was found in Pretoria East at the end of August.

Police spokesperson Captain Jan Sepato told the Pretoria East Rekord the man was believed to have been struck by a number of vehicles and the body was in a bad state when it was found by police on August 29. After a lengthy search of the area, police were unable to find the man’s head.

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The investigation brings to mind the beheading case that rocked KwaZulu-Natal two years ago. Five of six accused who were arrested in connection to the murder and beheading of Croftdene woman, Desiree Murugan, 39, in Chatsworth in August 2014 are still to stand trial. According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) KwaZulu-Natal communications manager Natasha Kara, the remaining suspects are still in custody at Westville Prison as they await their trial to resume in the Durban High Court on November 14.

Kara said only one accused was sentenced. This is Falakhe Khumalo, who pleaded guilty to murder in the Durban Regional Court on September 11, 2014, and was convicted in relation to the beheading of Murugan.

A media statement from September 2014 issued by the NPA described how the body of Murugan, a sex worker, was found in August 2014 at the Shallcross sports stadium in Chatsworth. A week later, her head was discovered in Infume on Durban’s south coast.

Six people were arrested for the murder in 2014, with the first three accused being minors; Accused 4, Sibonakaliso Mbili, 32, is a sangoma; and accused 5, Vusumuzi Gumede, 30. The last accused was Khumalo. The media statement read: “In his plea, Mr. Khumalo mentioned how he had gone to a sangoma (Accused 4) to get medicine for a sexually transmitted infection that he had contracted. The sangoma requested the head of an Indian, Coloured or white female as payment.  The sangoma mentioned that he will give the accused a sum of R2 million if he successfully did this.”

Khumalo then enlisted the assistance of Accused 1, 2 and 3. “The deceased was killed while having sexual intercourse with the accused,” read the statement.

He told the court how each of the other accused were involved, as well as how the deceased was decapitated and her body dumped while her head was taken back to the sangoma.

Regional court prosecutor Kuveshni Pillay said the postmortem report showed the deceased suffered 195 stab wounds and was most likely conscious when she was beheaded.

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“Khumalo was sentenced to life imprisonment, as the court could not find compelling circumstances to mete out a lesser sentence,” read the statement. The NPA had stated that the sentence showed that heinous crimes and similar conduct would not be tolerated.

In May last year, Murugan’s sister Jeanette was quoted by the Rising Sun Chatsworth as saying: “Our family is hoping that all five of the accused will get more than one life sentence because we feel that if they are released after having served one life sentence, they will still be fairly young, and the public has no assurance that they will not commit another crime.”

During the trial of the five accused in the Durban Regional Court in November last year, Jeanette had said: “It is an emotional time for us, especially since it is the first time hearing everything in detail from the horse’s mouth.”

Caxton News Service

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