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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 11:50 GMT 12:50 UK
Relief at SA lion murder verdict
Crossley
Scott-Crossley and his workers killed Nelson Chisale 15 months ago
The niece of South African lion murder victim Nelson Chisale has expressed relief that the lengthy trial is over.

Mr Chisale's former employer and a fellow worker were both convicted on Thursday of murdering Mr Chisale and feeding his body to lions.

"I'm happy it's finally over," said Fetsang Jafta, Mr Chisale's niece who had identified her uncle's remains by means of gaps in his teeth.

The employer, Mark Scott-Crossley, was found to have masterminded the killing.

He could face a life jail sentence, but his family said the case was not over until sentence was passed.

Friendly

"I've travelled a long way, sitting on a hard bench every day listening to what they did to my uncle," Ms Jafta told the South African Press Association.

The truth and lies will not mix and can never mix
Ivy Thenga
State prosecutor
Ms Jafta was reported to have been talking in a friendly manner with Scott-Crossley's mother, Noreen Breeds, who attended the trial only on the final day.

"I can't judge her because of what her son did," Ms Jafta said.

Mrs Breeds herself told Sapa that for her family, the judgement did not represent the end of the trial.

"We're not going to get weak now," Mrs Breeds said.

Sentencing is expected in August. Scott-Crossley faces a mandatory life sentence unless he can prove "substantial and compelling" reasons for the court to decide otherwise, his attorney Charl van Tonder told Sapa.

Expected

Defence advocate Johann Engelbrecht said the defence team would now be studying the judgement to prepare to present evidence in mitigation of sentence.

He added that the case was "not finished yet".

Joina Mathebula, wife of Simon Mathebula who was also convicted of murder, was reportedly close to tears outside the courtroom, and made no comment on the verdict.

Mathebula's defence counsel said of the verdict: "We expected it".

State prosecutor Ivy Thenga said she was satisfied the law had taken its course, after a six-week trial with 23 witnesses whose testimony was sometimes contradictory.

"The truth and lies will not mix and can never mix," she said.

Richard Mathebula, the third accused in the case, is to be tried separately after being treated in hospital for tuberculosis.




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SEE ALSO:
SA farmer 'fed worker to lions'
10 Feb 04 |  Africa
South Africa's violent farms
03 Sep 03 |  Africa
Country profile: South Africa
08 Nov 03 |  Country profiles
Timeline: South Africa
19 Nov 03 |  Country profiles


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