Man jailed for 18 years in South Africa for killing Irish aid worker

Mitspa Nzakomba Oyoka (27) apologises to family of John Curran for his 2018 murder

John Curran, who was stabbed to death at his Cape Town apartment in 2018.

John Curran, who was stabbed to death at his Cape Town apartment in 2018.


A nightclub cleaner has received an 18-year jail sentence after admitting in a plea deal to the murder of an Irish aid worker in South Africa in 2018.

Mitspa Nzakomba Oyoka (27) had initially said that he stabbed John Curran to death in self-defence, claiming that the former school principal tried to rape him after inviting him to his apartment in Cape Town on November 6th, 2018.

However, the Congolese national changed his story at the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to the Dublin man’s murder. He admitted that Mr Curran posed no danger to him when they met at his apartment.

After the sentence was handed down by judge Selwyn Hockey, Oyoka apologised to the Curran family, who had a representative in court. He said he hope the outcome would help to heal the pain he had caused them.

“I want to give apologies to the family. I know that saying sorry cannot fix this thing I did. But I know that over time it will reduce the pain you feel because it took me almost one year to forgive myself,” he said.


“I know white people don’t believe in witchcraft. But I know everything I did in that time is not me. Sincerely I ask you to forgive me.”

Mr Curran’s body was found in his apartment on November 7th, 2018 by a domestic worker. He had been working as the director of education at Irish non-government organisation Mellon Educate in the city.

In an earlier court appearance, Oyoka said he first met Mr Curran while working at the Fantasy Lounge in Cape Town and that the deceased had promised to improve his life situation.

According to a statement made by Oyoka, on which the plea deal was based, Mr Curran made repeated unwanted sexual advances on the day of the attack that had annoyed him, as it appeared he was not going to stop.

“I reacted by pushing the deceased away and grabbing a knife from the kitchen and stabbing the deceased multiple times. The deceased fell on the ground and was struggling to breath. I then took a frying pan and hit the deceased over the head,” Oyoka said.

Postmortem results showed that Mr Curran suffered a total of 26 stab wounds to his chest, neck and head during the attack, as well as blunt force trauma to the right side of his skull.

“I admit that it was not necessary for me to act in such a manner nor was I in any danger as I could have just left the apartment after I pushed the deceased away,” Oyoka said.

Other offences

He also pleaded guilty to the theft of Mr Curran’s phone, which he sold to a second-hand mobile dealer for R5,100 (€303), and to being in South Africa illegally.

The judge agreed with the deal between the state and Oyoka’s lawyer that an 18-year sentence was appropriate for murder and that all the circumstances were taken into consideration.

Oyoka was also sentenced to three years each for theft and fraud, and 12 months for contravening the Immigration Act.

The four sentences will run concurrently and Oyoka will be deported upon his release from prison.