Taxi driver sentenced to 25 years behind bars for killing his girlfriend

Taxi driver sentenced to 25 years behind bars for killing his girlfriend. Lungani Lloyd Hill (46), who killed his girlfriend Thenjiwe Maphalala in Bergville in November 2018, was given an effective 25-year prison term by the Ladysmith Regional Court in KwaZulu Natal (KZN).

Hill, an Umlazi taxi driver, had a tense relationship with Maphalala, a 39-year-old security guard at the Emmaus Hospital. According to Natasha Kara, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for KZN, Hill traveled from Durban to Bergville on the day of the murder in pursuit of Maphalala.

“After going to the hospital early morning and not finding Maphalala there, he proceeded in the direction of her home. Shortly after, Maphalala was found with deep stab wounds on her body. Her neighbour rushed her to the hospital where she was declared dead at around 6am,” she said. Kara said that the state did not have any eyewitnesses.

Sathisha Budram, the acting regional court prosecutor, presented the court with circumstantial evidence to establish Hill’s guilt.

“Maphalala had phoned her mother, telling her that Hill was in the area and that he had threatened to kill her. She told her mother that should she die, her mother must know that it was Hill who did it. The mother made a statement to this effect to the police, and this statement was used in court,” Kara said.

She stated that Budram called an expert witness to testify regarding Hill, Maphalala, and her mother’s cellphone data. Maphalala’s smartphone was found to have travelled from Bergville to Umlazi on the day of the murder, according to evidence presented by the state. Budram also used images of Hill’s automobile that were taken at the Mooi River Plaza as Hill was traveling to Bergville on the day that Maphalala was killed to support his case. A coworker of Maphalala’s stated that Hill had been to the hospital at 5:00 a.m. on the morning of the murder in search of her. This testimony was used by the state as further evidence.

“The co-worker told the court that when Hill discovered that Maphalala was not there, he drove off in the direction of her home. While the state had asked for life imprisonment for murder, the court sentenced Hill to 20 years imprisonment, citing his lack of previous convictions, his age and the possibility of him being rehabilitated as reasons for the deviation,” Kara said

Hill received a five-year prison term for theft. He was declared unsuitable to possess a firearm by the court, which also ruled that the terms run concurrently.