Youth leaguer's 22 years for murder
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal yesterday said it would have preferred that the man who ordered the killing of two ANC leaders got a harsher sentence.
ANC Youth League member Sifiso Khumalo, 30, was sentenced to 22 years' imprisonment by the Pietermaritzburg High Court after confessing to being behind the murder of ANC Oshabeni branch chairman Dumisani Malunga, 42, and member Bheko Chiliza, 39.
In sentencing Khumalo, who confessed this week to ordering the killing of Malunga because he stood in the way of his own election as a ward councillor, acting Judge Sibusiso Mngomezulu said the court decided on a lighter sentence because Khumalo showed genuine remorse and did not waste the court's time.
The acting judge said it would have been expected that Khumalo would exercise political tolerance because he and Malunga were from the same political party.
"There was absolutely no justification for you to eliminate him by the barrel of a gun to prevent him from vying for the position as ward councillor. Democracy dictates that the ballot is the only acceptable way to compete with the opposition for leadership positions," he said.
Mngomezulu said the crime had hurt the deceased's next of kin, who had lost a loved member .
"Nevertheless, the court guarded against the indignation of society to cloud its judgment on the most suitable sentence," he said.
Mngomezulu said the fact that Khumalo had pleaded guilty, assisted the police in solving the murders and was willing to give evidence against his alleged accomplices counted in his favour.
ANC leaders in the province - including treasurer Peggy Nkonyeni, provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala, Lower South Coast regional secretary Mzwandile Mkhwanazi and Moses Mabhida regional secretary Supa Zuma - were among those in court.
Speaking to the media shortly afterwards, Zikalala said the ANC had welcomed the sentence.
"The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal would have loved a much heavier sentence. Twenty-two years for us is not satisfying for the crime [he] committed . The incident and this act does not belong to members of the ANC.
"It's a heinous act which is criminal; it is anti-ANC, it's foreign, it's not known in the ANC that a member can sit and think of killing another ANC member merely for a position of being councillor."
He said a harsher sentence would have sent a clear message and been a deterrent to others with the same ideas.