They tried to run, but they could not hide. Even their last, desperate escape attempt—using a brick to bash a police officer as their prison van arrived at Johannesberg High Court a few days ago—proved unsuccessful. And so Sfiso Mhlanga and Mbuti Mabe were back in court with their own heads bandaged. Their accomplice Julius Gxowa, who did not try to escape, avoided getting his head busted up. But all three faced charges of murdering the South African reggae star Lucky Dube during a botched carjacking last October 16, 2007.
They told the court that they did not know the identity of the man they killed until reading it in the papers the next day. Nonetheless, they were found guilty.
“What happened to him was really traumatic to all of us,” said Dube’s son Thokozani, who saw his father gunned down after he and his sister were dropped off at an uncle’s house, “but we are happy that his killers have been found guilty. We know they are being brought to book and we can now have closure.” He added that he hoped they would get a “proper sentence.” That sentence will be handed down in coming weeks. Outrage over Dube’s murder led to widepsread calls for reinstatement of the death penalty in a country that endured close to 20,000 murders last year.