Two jailed for life over Professor Kamwendo’s murder

Professor Gregory Kamwendo

South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal High Court has convicted and sentenced two people Oscar Mthiyani, 53, and Selby Nkuna, 49, to life imprisonment for the murder of a Malawian sociolinguist and educationist, Professor Gregory Kamwendo in 2018.

Kamwendo was shot dead on May 22 in a car outside his gated house at Durnford Heights Complex in Empangeni in the Rainbow Nation. Mthiyane, a security guard, and Nkuna, Kamwendo’s former workmate, were arrested in November the same year in connection with the murder.

The case commenced on March 2, 2020 at Mtunzini High Court in KwaZulu- Natal Province.


Wife to the deceased, Juliet, said it has been a long stressing journey.

“The case resumed on 13 August 2020 at the High Court. It has taken longer because there were challenges on the side of the defence lawyer who claimed not to be paid. But by the look of things, it was just a delaying tactic up until the judge threatened to put the accused back into the cell. However, the issue of defence attorney was sorted and the matter proceeded.

“On Tuesday, 6 October 2020 there was a judgment in which both accused persons were found guilty of murder pending sentencing,” Kamwendo’s widow said.


The life sentence was meted out on October 15.

“The two accused were positively identified and linked to the case. They were tried in court and made several court appearances until they were sentenced. The investigation revealed that Nkuna was a lecturer working at the same institution as the deceased,” KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Nqobile Gwala is quoted as saying.

Nkuna is alleged to have put a R25,000 price tag on Kamwendo’s head and Mthiyani facilitated the hit.

South African media reported that Kamwendo’s murder came after the professor had uncovered a fraudulent PhD syndicate at the institution.

The media reported that Kamwendo had opposed the alleged syndicate, which ultimately resulted in his death.

Kamwendo taught at Chancellor College, University of Malawi, before he left to teach at Botswana University. He then went to South Africa in 2012 and he was at University of KwaZulu- Natal from 2012 to 2016.

He moved to University of Zululand in 2016 where he was Dean of the Faculty of Arts until his death. He is survived by a wife and three children.

Kamwendo hailed from Traditional Authority Chikowi in Zomba.

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