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Lucky Dube's killers convicted, face life in jail


PORTRAIT OF KILLERS: The three men convicted of the murder of Lucky Dube in court

HUMANITARIAN: Lucky Dube's former guitarist told the court of the slain singer's charitable work
HUMANITARIAN: Lucky Dube's former guitarist told the court of the slain singer's charitable work

Posted to the web: 01/03/2009 23:08:11
THREE men were convicted Tuesday of murdering South Africa's internationally acclaimed reggae star Lucky Dube.

The High Court in Johannesburg found Sifiso Mhlanga, Mbuti Mabe and Julius Gxowa guilty of killing Dube, who was gunned down during a botched hijacking in October 2007.

A judge will hand down sentences on Thursday.

The award-winning singer was dropping off his teenage son at a relative's home when gunmen shot him three times at close range.

Security was beefed up in the court room after two of the accused, Mabe and Mlanga, attempted to escape custody on Tuesday morning, hitting a police officer in the face with a brick.

The pair heard their guilty verdict with bloodied swabs covering head injuries sustained in the foiled escape bid and have since been charged with assault and attempting to escape custody.

The three were also found guilty of hijacking a car two days after Dube's murder.
Mabe was found guilty on an additional charge relating to the hijacking of a another vehicle used in the botched theft of Dube's car.

Dube, 43, who recorded in Zulu, English and Afrikaans, was one of the first to play reggae in his homeland and was widely admired abroad.

The musician's killing has provoked worldwide condemnation and renewed domestic calls for the restoration of the death penalty in a bid to stem one of the world's highest murder rates.

MURDER SCENE: Lucky Dube's killers drove off in his Chrysler before crashing it against a tree. They hijacked another car a day later
MURDER SCENE: Lucky Dube's killers drove off in his Chrysler before crashing it against a tree. They hijacked another car a day later

Dube recorded more than 20 albums in a career spanning two decades and was regarded as one of the first artists to introduce reggae in South Africa.

Sentencing hearings began Wednesday in the trial which started on February 2 with 46 witnesses listed to testify. In the end, less than half were called to the witness box.

On Tuesday Judge Seun Moshidi said the court did not have evidence that Dube was the target that night and that he was rather a victim of a botched hijacking.

Advocate Lethabo Mashiane, for the prosecution, agreed with him saying that Dube "was at the wrong place at the wrong time".

Mashiane said the men should be removed from society and not be considered for parole before serving at least 25 years of their sentence.

"They didn't show any remorse... and they are surely not candidates for rehabilitation. This court should impose one sentence only and that sentence is life imprisonment," Mashiane said.

Judge Moshidi stood the matter down for Thursday to consider all the facts.

"The court isn't going to rush, so the court will give sentence tomorrow at 10am," Moshidi said.

STATEMENT: Lucky Dube's wife, Zanele, in court
STATEMENT: Lucky Dube's wife, Zanele, in court
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