Four years after Rhythm City actor Dumisani Masilela was murdered, his family can finally start picking up the pieces after their lives fell apart.
On Wednesday, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sentenced his killers to life imprisonment for their role in the 2017 murder.
During sentencing, Judge Mokhine Mosopa said the accused were the kind of people who did not respect others’ right to life.
He added their victims suffered immense pain and killing Masilela put an “end to a promising life”.
Mosopa said the accused were not remorseful.
“The accused are very young but my intention is to send them away very long time.”
On 30 July, he found Bongani Masombuka, 34, Sfundo Nkosi, 30, Khumbuzo Mukhuba, 27, Brian Makhubedu, 24, and Mashudu Malema, 31, guilty of murder through the doctrine of common purpose.
The court found they had hijacked another vehicle on the day and attempted to hijack Masilela when he was shot in the stomach.
He died the following morning.
The men then fled to the North West, where they continued their crime spree.
The five were sentenced to a further 175 years’ imprisonment for crimes including kidnapping and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Following the sentencing, the Masilela family and friends exited court and huddled together overcome with emotion.
His uncle, Tumelo Magase, told News24 the conclusion of the trial marked a new dawn for the family.
“We know that there are a lot of similar cases in the country that are still inconclusive but we are grateful that we as a family were given the opportunity to finally rest,” Magase said.
He added since Masilela was murdered, their lives had been on hold, with the family struggling emotionally and unable to find closure.
Masilela’s mother, Sabata Masilela, had previously testified her life fell apart after her son’s murder.
She was diagnosed with depression so crippling she lost her job as a teacher and had to be hospitalised several times over the years.
“For my sister, I am happy. As she indicated in court, this really affected her emotionally, I mean she was not able to work, she was hospitalised many times, she was on medication,” Mabase said, adding:
He added the sentencing represented closure for Sabata and she would finally be able to carry on with her life.
Mabase said her life had been on hold as there were so many questions left unanswered after Masilela’s life was taken.
“I am happiest that she saw the closure of this. For the family at large, this was the first time I was able to break down and cry today because after the way he died, the issue has been who did it and why so today for me as a uncle, I felt it was closure.
“I finally got to look at the people who killed my nephew. Nothing will bring him back, but I think for me I feel like it’s a closed chapter at least from a justice perspective.”