By Mashudu Netsianda
A Bulawayo man who was about to be released from prison appeared in court for allegedly participating in the gruesome killing of a security guard at a flea market in the city centre in 2013.
Ignatius Mehluli Mhlanga (26) of Old Pumula who was about to complete a nine-month jail term for robbery is alleged to have killed Mr Vengai Murisi (34) in the company of two other accused persons while he was on duty manning Mutize and Sons Flea Market in the city centre seven years ago.
Mhlanga allegedly killed Murisi with Timothy Mathema (30) and Isaac Nyakurerwa (35) who were sentenced to life in prison for murder with actual intent in 2018. The two implicated Mhlanga who had fled to South Africa.
They brutally attacked the security guard at his work place by tying his hands, legs and neck using a wire coat hanger before strangling him to death using a jacket draw-string.
Mhlanga was on the run for six years but came back to the country and was arrested and jailed for nine months for another robbery he committed. However, police continued to search for him for killing the security guard while he was in fact in prison serving time for the robbery charge.
He was arrested last year in October at Bulawayo Prison moments before being released from jail after serving nine months for the robbery. Mhlanga appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Christopher Dube-Banda on Wednesday facing a murder charge.
Prosecuting, Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu said on February 10 in 2013 at about 7PM, Murisi reported for duty at Mutize and Sons Flea Market situated along Lobengula Street between 8th Avenue Extension and Leopold Takawira Avenue.
During the course of the night, Mhlanga in the company of Mathema and Nyakurerwa, arrived at the flea market and found the deceased asleep.
“They assaulted Murisi on the head with a plank and further strangled him using a jacket until he died. His body was discovered the following morning by his colleague, the late Mr George Gwachari who called the police. The three men stole clothing items and fled from the scene,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Mathema and Nyakurerwa were later arrested and it was discovered that they had sold some of the clothing items to people who live as far as Plumtree.
Police also recovered the deceased’s phone during indications.
A post mortem report showed that Murisi had died due to strangulation, asphyxia and homicide. In his defence through his lawyer, Mr Lament Ngwenya of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chamber, Mhlanga said he acted in self-defence to avert an attack from the deceased who was trying to apprehend him after they had strayed into the flea market.
“Soon after entering the flea market, we were startled by the deceased who attempted to apprehend us. During the scuffle, I struck the deceased with a plank twice on the forehead and my blow had the effect of disorienting Murisi who was then held by my accomplices,” he said.
He tried to exonerate himself from the murder, alleging that his accomplices were the ones who caused Murisi’s death by tying his hands, legs and neck using a wire coat hanger before strangling him. The Chronicle