SOUTH AFRICA - The Mthatha High Court, sitting in Sterkspruit, sentenced former United States Marine Karl Kamal Rashid, to an effective twenty years behind bars for killing an unknown man, placing his body in a car and setting the vehicle alight, to fake his own death before defrauding insurance companies out of half a million rand.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson, Luxolo Tyali, said Rashid was convicted earlier this month and sentenced on Tuesday.
Rashid was sentenced to 20 years for murder and a total of 15 years for the three counts of fraud which will run concurrently. Tyali said the crimes were all committed in September 2011 in the Eastern Cape district of Sterkspruit.
Rashid served in the US army for 26 years before relocating to South Africa and marrying a South African woman. Tyali said Rashid was initially charged alongside his wife but the state abandoned her prosecution when it transpired during trial that there was no sufficient evidence to prove that she was aware that her husband had faked his death.
Before acting judge Noluthando Ndzondo passed down sentence on Tuesday, Rashid addressed the court in mitigation of sentence. He made an emotional plea during which he apologised to the people of Sterkspruit, South Africa and the government of the United States.
“I never saw this coming. I killed that guy who I still do not know who he was. I made a stupid mistake and now the stuff is coming back to haunt me,” said Rashid before declaring his undying love for South Africa.
However, senior State Advocate Sibusiso Nolutshungu cross-examined Rashid, who failed to explain why he only admitted his guilt after eight years of a marathon trial.
The State contended that Rashid was not remorseful but merely regretted the situation he found himself in. The court agreed with the State but spared him life imprisonment.
Judge Ndzondo said she took into consideration that Rashid had been in custody since December 2011, and reports that he once assisted the Department of Correctional Services in foiling an escape attempt by inmates during his time in custody.
The court further expressed concurrence with the State that the crimes Rashid committed were serious and “his so-called death had strained international relations between South Africa and the US."
Prior to 12 September 2011, Rashid took out insurance policies, insuring his life, assets and funeral cover in the event of his death. He then planned that he would fake his death by killing someone.
In pursuit of his plan, on 3 September 2011, Rashid killed the deceased, who is unknown to the State, placed the body on the driver’s seat of his car and then poured petrol over the body of the deceased and all over the motor vehicle.
He then set the car alight and the deceased’s body was completely charred. Rashid disappeared from his place of residence at Manxeba Village in Sterkspruit after the incident.
His wife thereafter made claims to First National Bank, Outsurance and Kansas City Life Insurance. An amount totalling R512 470,00 was paid to her by the different insurers, before the investigators alerted more insurance companies about the fraud.
Rashid was arrested in a Bloemfontein flat by Eastern Cape police in December 2011 and the State successfully opposed his release on bail.
Tyali said the NPA welcomed the sentence and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Barry Madolo commended Advocate Nolutshungu and the investigating team, led by Warrant Officer Zamikaya Mdidimba, for a job well done.