Durban - An Inanda father will observe the next 13 Father’s Days in Westville Prison after being found guilty of killing his 2-year-old son.
In the Durban Regional Court, 34-year-old Simphiwe Ngetshu blamed robbers for killing his son, and said he regretted having his son with him at the time of a “robbery”.
The boy died in hospital after he was stabbed.
Magistrate Trevor Levitt said Ngetshu’s motive for killing Smangaliso Nhlengetwa was revenge, referring to Ngetshu’s turbulent relationship with his ex-girlfriend, Balungile Nhlengetwa, mother of Smangaliso.
“This child had no defence. He was totally dependent on you. You were his father, protector, mentor, provider and comforter and in a few seconds you took that away and blamed it on someone else. You now have to live with the consequences of your actions. You must come to terms with the fact that you caused the death of your child. This will eat away at your soul,” said Levitt to Ngetshu.
Ngetshu claimed that on August 23 last year at 2.30pm he had been walking along Ryde Place in Durban North, carrying his son on his shoulders, when they were approached by three men.
He said his child was taken into the bush while he was being robbed. When he went into the bush to look for his son, he found him crying and bleeding from the left side of his chest.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges of murder and defeating the course of justice by making a false police statement.
He confessed to the police that he was possessed by evil spirits, driving him to commit the crime, but later withdrew this confession saying he was coerced into doing so.
He was sentenced to 13 years, two years less than the minimum prescribed sentence, for murder, and a year for defeating the course of justice. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The magistrate also told Ngetshu that the boy’s mother would never forgive him for taking their child’s life and that his eldest child would also suffer as he would be left without a father for a long time.
Nhlengetwa was not in court on Friday.
She only came to court to testify, and said Ngetshu had disappeared with Smangaliso for three days and had not answered his cellphone, which was eventually switched off.
She described a turbulent five-year relationship in which she eventually moved out with her two children and Smangaliso was left in Ngetshu’s care.
She testified to Ngetshu telling her he would one day do something wrong, but never elaborated on this. She firmly believed Ngetshu had killed their son.
In handing down his judgment, magistrate Levitt said a series of improbabilities had led to the guilty verdict.
He said there were no corresponding defects on the boy’s clothing, as one would expect, where the injuries were inflicted, there was minimal blood on Smangaliso’s clothing and there was no blood on Ngetshu’s clothing, despite his carrying the child after he was stabbed and walking with him for 30 minutes to get help.
He also said it was improbable for robbers to attack a child for no reason.
He said that about 45 minutes had passed from the time of the robbery, to the time the child was declared dead by a Durban North doctor, who said that rigor mortis had already set in. The doctor had also estimated that the child had been dead for at least six hours.
“The question is what the accused did for three hours after the incident. In all probability he was undecided on what to do about the child,” said Levitt.
The magistrate felt Ngetshu did not make a good impression on the court in comparison with the State’s witnesses.
He said while the court could not rely on his confession to the police, with all the improbabilities and inconsistencies in his version, the court believed he stabbed and killed his child.
Testifying during arguments for sentencing, Ngetshu still maintained his innocence.
Prosecutor Krishen Shah asked why he had killed his child.
Ngetshu replied: “Deep down in my heart, I know I didn’t do it. I’ve got a pure heart and loved Smangaliso too much.”