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Facebook post leads to arrests of man who killed farm employer

Posting a photo of himself on Facebook was the downfall of a man who killed his employer and a colleague on a farm in Limpopo and fled to Lesotho.

Lazarus Justice Mohapi, 28, laid low in that country for two years and was arrested after residents informed the police of his whereabouts.

A trial later followed, and Mohapi was found guilty of the murder of his employer, Simon Malebane, and farmworker Leburu Ngoagamobe.

On Wednesday, the Limpopo High Court in Polokwane sentenced him to two life terms plus 43 years’ imprisonment for multiple offences. The charges included conspiracy to commit robbery with aggravating circumstances, two counts of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, and being in South Africa illegally.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said Mohapi, a citizen of Lesotho, conspired with two accomplices to kill Malebane on his farm.

“On 17 August 2019, in the evening, they attacked the deceased while he was opening the gate of the farm. They then accosted him, struck him with iron rods and [took him to the] farmhouse.

Upon arrival at the house, they shot and killed one of the farm caretakers, Leburu Ngoagamobe, and then shot and strangled Malebane.

“They then stole firearms… and R200 000 cash. After the attack, they fled the scene.”

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According to Malabi-Dzhangi, Mohapi fled to Lesotho but “was arrested in 2021 after he posted a picture of himself on Facebook”.

Malabi-Dzhangi said:

State witnesses testified that the accused and two accomplices were employed at Redwing Investment Farm in Bela-Bela. They conspired to rob their employer.

Prosecutor advocate Lerato Mohlaka called Malebane’s brother, Kgoshi Malesela Jonas Malebane, to testify in aggravation of sentence. He said his brother played a role in the chieftaincy of Moshate wa Bakgatla ba Malebane ba Makutu and had business and family responsibilities.

He employed more than 2 000 people, and some lost their jobs after his death, Malesela added. He said Malebane was a mentor to young entrepreneurs.

During sentencing, Judge George Phathudi said Mohapi and his accomplices conspired to rob a man who had fed them and mercilessly killed him and their co-worker.

Mohapi’s two accomplices are still at large.

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