Johannesburg – The man who killed German millionaire Uwe Gemballa has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars, the Sunday Times reported.
Thabiso Melvin Mpye, 29, was arrested, convicted and sentenced by the High Court in Johannesburg last Friday, within 24 hours.
He pleaded guilty to kidnapping and killing Gemballa shortly after his arrival in South Africa at OR Tambo International Airport on February 8. Gemballa, 55, who had made his fortune customising high-end cars, was met at the airport by an unidentified man and taken to a house in First Avenue, Edenvale, where he was held against his will.
The murder is described in a four-page indictment handed to the court: “He (Mpye) covered the deceased’s entire body with duct tape, then forced out all the oxygen from his body by sitting on his chest and suffocating him.”
Mpye wrapped the body up in a black plastic sheet and secured it with more duct tape. He then drove the corpse 70km to Lotus Gardens, near Atteridgeville, Pretoria, and buried it.
On the day of his arrival Gemballa called his wife Christiane, and asked her for one million euros. She became suspicious and contacted the police.
The Edenvale house is rented by 36-year-old Bulgarian businessman, the newspaper reported.
Police spokesperson Colonel Vishnu Naidoo was quoted as saying that “the investigation is not closed”.
According to the Sunday Times Gemballa had come to South Africa to set up a franchise of his international business.