IOL reports that a Durban, South Africa man who killed another man for attempting to kiss him was recently convicted of culpable homicide and sentenced to 40 hours a month of community service for three years, and anger management classes.
27-year-old Nkosinathi Madlala admitted to killing Sduduzo Buthelezi and disposing of his body, which was later found to have been dumped next to a river in Chatsworth. There were no witnesses to the killing to corroborate Madlala’s story, but the court determined that there was no reason to doubt his testimony.
Of the night of the incident, Madlala said:
“He started touching me and pulling me towards him. I reprimanded him and told him to stop. He continued. He was caressing my left thigh in an upward and downward motion. He was also touching my beard and caressing my neck. While doing this he was talking, asking me if we could become lovers.”
Madlala, who worked as a graphic designer, said he knew Buthelezi from his work; he had designed car stickers for him in 2017.
After having a drink together, Buthelezi suggested that they drive to nearby Higginson Highway.
“On the way, while I drove, he started touching me.”
“This happened while the car was moving and I could not use my hands to ward him off as I had to concentrate on the road.”
Madlala stated he then told Buthelezi that he had a girlfriend and a child.
“I told him that I was sorry if I had given him the wrong impression. I felt him kissing me on the chin. I pushed him away. He then faced upward and laughed at me. I felt embarrassed and humiliated by his actions and laughter. I struck him once on the neck with my left hand. My blow was not specifically directed to his neck.”
“After I struck him he sat still and remained quiet. I called out his name at least three times but he did not respond.”
Madlala then drove around, hoping that Buthelezi would wake up, though he said he noticed his eyes were wide open.
“At this point it dawned on me that he was dead. I was scared and did not know what to do. I decided to dump the body at a place where it would be found, near the river.”
Madlala then asked a friend to dispose of Buthelezi’s car.
“I admit that I ought to have foreseen the possibility of him dying as a result of being hit in the neck.”
The coroner’s report confirms that the cause of Buthelezi’s death was blunt neck trauma or mild strangulation.
Defending oneself from sexual assault is an appropriate reaction, and humans are fragile, so it may be true that Madlala did not intend to kill Buthelezi. S
everal people pointed out that disposing of the body and vehicle is suspicious:
Hectic! I understand it’s self defence and lacks intention to kill. But…he disposed the body ????
— #VoteEFF (@IsaacKgafela) March 4, 2019
Whaaaattttttt!!????????????????????????????this is just another reason women are abused in record numbers in country! Men get away with murder and dump bodies in the states is 15 years to death penalty
— Markus Schorn (@markusschorn) March 4, 2019
Others pointed out that a man was killed; prison time would not be unexpected, whatever the killer’s motivations:
I think at least 4 years prison time would be fair. The man killed a person. This is not a fare sentence at all.
— sindiswa (@simoolman) March 4, 2019
Shocking justice system
— Phillip Phoku ???????? (@PhillipPhoku) March 4, 2019
Ay this is wrong
— Nkosie (@nkosietall) March 4, 2019
— jas blanche (@heeltevrede) March 4, 2019
Several people were confused by the decision:
So they just took his word for it, then basically ignored the little detail of him concealing the body?
Then the judge said whaaaat?
It’s all just bizarre
— ntombizodwa (@missnmash) March 4, 2019
The judge took his word because there was no witness. This is not justice
— Mafuza Maya (@mafuzam) March 4, 2019
The biggest problem, however, was Judge Shyam Gyanda’s statement during sentencing. He claimed that Madlala reacted as anyone else would have in the same situation.
“You are a first offender. The State had suggested a short imprisonment term to pay for your actions and thereafter a correctional supervision term.”
“In my view this would not help, but would expose you to further criminality.”
I think it’s criminal to kill someone (for- or unforseen) but reactions here suggesting he got away with it is false. He got a sentence, although not what the average person expected. However, for a judge to suggest any other person would have acted this way is just WRONG!
— Eduard Smith (@EduardSmith) March 4, 2019
This idea that anyone would have reacted in the same manner is disturbingly close to the “Gay/Trans Panic Defense,” where someone claims that their violent acts were simply because they entered a state of blind panic after discovering that the other party was gay or trans.
There are efforts to ban this defense in several US states, and California, Rhode Island, and Illinois have already explicitly banned it. The American Bar Association recommended that other states follow suit and ban it in 2013.