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Court heeds State’s call for life in femicide trial

Khulukazi Ndlovu was kidnapped and torched in her car pictured behind her. Her husband Sfiso Professor Ndlovu was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder in the Durban High Court on Friday.

Khulukazi Ndlovu was kidnapped and torched in her car pictured behind her. Her husband Sfiso Professor Ndlovu was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder in the Durban High Court on Friday.

Published Nov 20, 2023


Durban — A Durban bus inspector has begun serving the term of imprisonment handed to him by the Durban High Court for kidnapping, killing and torching his wife in her car.

On Friday Judge Mohini Moodley sentenced Sfiso Professor Ndlovu to life imprisonment for murder, 10 years for kidnapping and seven years for malicious damage to property despite Ndlovu’s defence asking the court to deviate from the minimum sentence of life.

In October Ndlovu, who had been out on bail, was found guilty of killing and kidnapping Khulukazi Ndlovu. She had been missing for a few days when her car was found burnt and abandoned in a cemetery in Molweni.

Human remains were found inside the wreck, but the identity of the body was only confirmed six months later through DNA.

Ndlovu, an inspector at Tansnat bus service, had pleaded not guilty to the April 2020 murder of his wife, who worked for the same bus service.

“The court should impose a custodial sentence but should deviate from the minimum sentence of life. In deciding whether substantial and compelling circumstances exist the court can look at traditional ordinary circumstances. Given what the accused’s sister said about his conduct - how taking care of the extended family shows him to be someone caring, responsible and sacrifices for the greater good of the family…His sister said he is someone who has been respectable to them he is not predisposed to gender-based violence behaviour,” said Ndlovu’s attorney, K Jairam, in mitigation of sentence.

Before addressing the court in mitigation of sentence Jairam had called Ndlovu’s sister to the stand to testify on Ndlovu’s character.

Bikaphi Ndlovu told the court the accused was one of 11 siblings and was the only son.

She said her sisters were unemployed and Ndlovu supported all of them financially and was the legal guardian to two of her sister’s children.

Bikaphi painted a picture to the court of a responsible and caring Ndlovu. However, during cross-examination State prosecutor advocate Thabani Buthelezi put it to Bikaphi that what she had told the court was contrary to the behaviour displayed by her brother when he killed his wife.

“He killed her and burnt her to ashes…He kidnapped your sister-in-law, killed her and burnt her to ashes. Now he is about to be sentenced and contrary to what you have just told the court, that he is a kind person, he killed her. The State has proved this beyond a reasonable doubt... this is contrary to the picture you paint of him,” said Buthelezi.

Court proceedings were forced to stop after Buthelezi’s statement to Bikaphi who had an emotional breakdown, had difficulty breathing and fell to the floor.

She was taken to a clinic for medical attention.

Buthelezi called Khulukazi’s father, Warren Mbhada, to the stand after this and he read his victim impact statement to the court.

“Talking about this incident brings painful traumatic memories. How can someone who claimed to love my daughter murder her? She was my oldest daughter, we were close, and she was loving and caring. Even though she was married she helped at home. She didn't care if there were other siblings. She would never complain, she was our pillar,” read Mbhada.

He said that Ndlovu had robbed the family of joy and brought them misery.

“I'm empty and shattered…I feel like my daughter was cremated since all I received were ashes. I can't begin to imagine what she went through before he set her alight, can't begin to imagine the torture she went through being set alight, and the amount of petrol he poured to reduce her to ashes,” read Mbhada.

In aggravation of sentence, Buthelezi said that life imprisonment was an appropriate sentence for Ndlovu.

“Many times women in abusive relationships are asked why they don’t leave. In this case, the deceased consciously took a decision to leave. She applied for a protection order to protect herself from the violence and abuse. She paid the ultimate price and lost her life in a gruesome manner,” said Buthelezi.

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