Gasa killer sentenced
Remorse not genuine, says magistrate
ADURBAN waiter outlined in chilling detail how he killed uMhlanga businessman Nhlanhla Gasa after spurning his sexual advances.
Mbulelo Arthur Ntlauzana, 25, pleaded guilty to murdering Gasa and was sentenced yesterday to 30 years’ imprisonment – despite a tearful apology that was rejected by the Durban Regional Court.
He said Gasa became upset when he did not reciprocate advances by the businessman, whom he had met in June 2010 when he served him at a Steers restaurant near the uMvoti toll plaza.
Ntlauzana said Gasa gave him a R200 tip and wrote his cellphone number on a serviette.
His lawyer, Hycenth Mlotshwa, said Gasa had tried to assault his client when he spurned his sexual advances last month.
On March 26, the night of the murder, Gasa had become increasingly aggressive and pushed him, Ntlauzana said, adding that he had responded by stabbing him in quick succession.
Post-mortem results revealed that Gasa, whose body was found floating under the John Ross Bridge in the Tugela River last month, was stabbed 12 times – twice on the head, several times in the chest – penetrating his heart, lung and kidney – and in his back.
Recalling how they had met, he said he had served Gasa at the restaurant and they had made “small talk”. When Gasa told him he was a businessman, Ntlauzana said he became excited because he had dreams of owning his own business.
Two days later, Ntlauzana said he called Gasa and they met on the N2 freeway. Gasa took him to his home in uMhlanga and they talked for hours.
Ntlauzana said Gasa had given him R400 that evening and R2 000 some months later, to register for a course they had spoken about. He had also given Ntlauzana a cellphone.
But there had been little contact between the pair last year because Gasa had been busy, he said.
When Ntlauzana was hired at Steers in uMhlanga this year, he called Gasa.
“He was very happy to hear this. He asked me why I wasn’t calling him,” Ntlauzana said. “I apologised and asked if he was still going to help me, as he had promised.”
He said on the evening of the murder, he got a call from Gasa asking to meet.
They talked in Gasa’s car outside Ntlauzana’s home in Groutville before making their way to Gasa’s home where they watched TV and a had a few drinks, the court heard.
Ntlauzana said while watching TV Gasa placed his hand on his thigh. “He was brushing me and looking at me in a sexual manner. He was speaking softy, saying that he always had feelings for me. He leaned toward me and kissed me on my right cheek.
“I told him that I’m straight. I have a girlfriend and children. He told me that no one had to know about this arrangement. He said that he was willing to support me financially.”
Ntlauzana said he told Gasa that he only saw him as a mentor and asked Gasa to take him home.
“I told him that I respect him and that I was embarrassed by what he was doing to me.”
Ntlauzana said Gasa grabbed a bottle of whiskey and attempted to hit him with it, but he managed to take the bottle away from him. The businessman then came at him with his fist.
He said he hit Gasa on the head with the bottle and the businessman threatened to kill him.
Ntlauzana said he ran to the kitchen and took a knife from the kitchen counter and pointed it at Gasa to scare him.
There was a scuffle and Ntlauzana stabbed Gasa.
When he realised Gasa was dead he thought of calling the police but thought they might shoot him on arrival.
Ntlauzana said he took a duvet, from the master bedroom, wrapped the body and dragged it to a garage downstairs before placing it in the boot of Gasa’s Jaguar XF.
Ntlauzana said he drove to Groutville where he met three men – identified only as Piti, Lindani and Bonjas.
Piti got into the car with him, and the others followed in a Toyota Condor.
He said he told Piti about body in the boot and asked for his help, but Piti was afraid. At the Tugela River, Ntlauzana said the others left and he threw the body over the bridge and drove off.
He then doused the car in petrol and set it alight.
While he watched the car, he said it exploded causing him to be thrown a few metres away.
“When I woke up I was half naked and didn’t know what happened to my T-shirt. I realised I got burned on my arm and face and walked home.”
Ntlauzana said he confessed his crime to his mother and girlfriend before leaving for the Eastern Cape the next day to seek medical attention from a sangoma.
Ntlauzana returned to Groutville a week later and on April 13 he was arrested.
After his statement was read out by his lawyer, Ntlauzana elected to address Gasa’s family, seated in the front row of a packed courtroom.
“To the family of the late Mr Gasa, I’d like to apologise,” he said, facing Gasa’s ex-wife S’nenhlanhla and their four children – former beauty queen Mbali Ngqula, television personality Noni Gasa, and his sons, Andile and Mpumelelo.
“I know what I did was wrong and I hope and pray you’ll find it in your hearts to forgive me.”
Ntlauzana described Gasa as a gentle and loving person who always wore a smile.
“What I’ve done haunts me every day, I’m sorry,” he said.
In aggravation of sentence, prosecutor Kuveshnie Pillay told Ntlauzana he had been upset with Gasa for not funding his business.
“I was never upset. I asked him about financing me a few times and he said he’d see what he could do,” Ntlauzana replied.
When Pillay asked Ntlauzana why, instead of handing himself over, he took his family with him to the Eastern Cape, he said he had been badly hurt and wanted to be treated and spend time with his family before he went to the police.
Passing sentence, magistrate Anand Maharaj, who convicted Ntlauzana of murder, theft and mali- cious injury to property, said he was not convinced his remorse was genuine.
He described Ntlauzana as “conniving” and “manipulative” and found that he acted callously and coldly in his attempt to “cover up” his crime.
“It is quite clear that the accused (Ntlauzana) tried to evade police because when you returned (from the Eastern Cape) you made no attempt to hand yourself over,” Maharaj said.
He said Ntlauzana “had the presence of mind” to destroy the vehicle.
The manner in which Gasa had been killed showed that the killer was filled with anger, hatred and rage, the magistrate said.
Ntlauzana was sentenced to 20 years for murder and 10 years for theft and malicious injury to property.