Durban — A Durban High Court judge described the nature in which a woman was murdered by her relative during a robbery as savage and barbaric.
Acting Judge Kevin Gounden said this on Thursday when he sentenced Sizwe Nicholum Sithole to 25 years imprisonment for his part in the murder of his relative Nozipho Zuma.
Last Wednesday Sithole tendered in his guilty plea after appearing in court with his co-accused Sifundo Phewa charged with the murder as well as breaking into the Umbumbulu home that Zuma shared with Sithole’s maternal grandmother in 2018.
Zuma was first strangled and when she didn’t die, was smothered with a pillow and then stabbed multiple times.
A cellphone and R1500 were taken by the accused from the home the two had broken into with the intention to steal money.
“Communities rely and count on the court to hand down just and fitting sentences to accused for crimes they have committed. Crimes of this nature are a pandemic in this country. The court has to look at all the evidence before deciding on a sentence. The court has to hand down a sentence that will be a deterrent to other like-minded people.
“You committed such a barbaric act just for a small amount of money and a cellphone. You killed the deceased and took her life because she would identify you. You strangled the deceased with your bare hands and after she did not die you went and fetched a knife from the kitchen. You killed your own family member,” said Gounden.
He said in coming to a decision on a sentence he had considered the accused’s substantial and compelling circumstances presented to the court by his defence in mitigation of sentence.
“These included that you have no previous convictions and that you pleaded guilty and showed remorse and apologised in court to the family.”
Sithole was sentenced to 7 years for housebreaking with intent to kill; this sentence is to run concurrently with the 25 years he was handed for murder.
In his plea, Sithole said after he had strangled Zuma he left her unconscious, but when he returned to the bedroom he found that she had regained consciousness.
He alleged that Phewa then took a pillow, put it on her face and used it to suffocate her with the intention to kill her, but she still did not die.
He said he then went to the kitchen to fetch a knife and gave it to Phewa who took it and allegedly stabbed her.
Phewa is expected to appear in court on October 2.
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