Posted by admin | Posted in Afro-American Music, Black Entertainment | Posted on 31-03-2009
JOHANNESBURG — Three men accused of murdering the South African reggae star Lucky Dube were found guilty here on Tuesday, just hours after two of them tried to bolt from custody on the way back to their trial.
Mr. Dube (pronounced doo-bay) was an internationally famous musician, and his murder during a botched carjacking in October 2007 once again brought the appalling rate of violent crime in South Africa to the world’s attention.
A recording artist with a strong social conscience, Mr. Dube, 43, had worked with Peter Gabriel, Sinead O’Connor and other Western artists. He often sang about the evils of crime, of houses broken into and bullets fired, wanting criminals to see their misdeeds through the eyes of their victims. He was killed while dropping off his two teenage children at his brother’s house in Rosettenville, near downtown Johannesburg.
Mr. Dube left behind a wife and seven children. After Tuesday’s verdict was read, his wife was too emotional to talk with reporters, but his son Thokozani, who had witnessed the crime, said, “We can now have closure.”
More than a dozen armed officers oversaw the proceedings after two of the defendants earlier tried to escape while guards transferred them from a truck to the courtroom basement. One prisoner hit a policeman in the face with a brick, according to a police captain quoted in a local news account of the episode. Warning shots were then fired, and the defendants were subdued in a scuffle. They arrived in court with their heads bandaged.
The three convicted men, S’fiso Mhlanga, Mbuti Mabe and Julius Gxowa, will be sentenced after a hearing where mitigating evidence can be presented. The death penalty has been banned in South Africa, though the Dube case has been cited by those who want its return.
The nation’s homicide rate, while declining, is among the worst. In 2006, it was about eight times more than the United States’ and 20 times higher than Western Europe’s, according to Antony Altbeker, a criminologist. Electrified barbed wire surrounds many of the finest homes in Johannesburg. South Africa exceeds international norms in its number of police officers, and by some estimates there are more than four times as many private security guards as police officers, with most companies promising their clients “armed response.”
Criminologists have long puzzled over not only the nation’s high crime rate but also the unusual amount of homicide and torture that accompanies burglaries and carjackings.
Mr. Dube had been driving a late-model Chrysler luxury sedan. According to the trial testimony of Mpho Maruping, who knew the accused men, they had been looking for just such an automobile the day of the crime.
The three men did not realize that they had killed someone both famous and widely beloved until they read the newspapers the next day. They had thought their victim “was a Nigerian,” Ms. Maruping said.