Mpho Thobane was sentenced yesterday at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court three years after murdering Viwe Dlangozi. Picture: SAPS
Mpho Thobane was sentenced yesterday at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court three years after murdering Viwe Dlangozi. Picture: SAPS

20-year prison term for Joburg man who doused lover with petrol and burnt her

By Botho Molosankwe Time of article published Feb 25, 2021

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Johannesburg - A man who doused his girlfriend with petrol as she slept and set her alight has been handed a 20-year sentence for the murder.

Mpho Thobane was sentenced on Thursday at the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court three years after murdering Viwe Dalingozi.

The magistrate said Thobane never showed any remorse because after he set Dalingozi alight, he fled to Limpopo instead of helping her.

On October 26 in 2018, Dalingozi was asleep at their Joburg CBD flat when Thobane entered, doused her with petrol then set her alight.

As she burnt, Thobane fled to Limpopo.

Dalingozi, who was from Engcobo in the Eastern Cape, died after two days of excruciating pain.

Johannesburg Police spokesperson Captain Xoli Mbele said Thobane had arrived home that evening to find Dalingozi sitting with her friends on another floor. Thobane, he said, was unemployed and Dalingozi was the breadwinner.

He said Thobane joined them and later said they must leave. However, Dalingozi told him he could go ahead and she would find him at the flat.

“When she later went to their flat, she did not find him and then got into bed to sleep. Thobane later came, poured petrol on her and set her on fire.

“He fled to Limpopo where we arrested him four days later.

During the trial, the couple’s neighbour told court that she saw Dalingozi running down the corridor while engulfed in flames.

“She was on fire and screaming that nditshisiwe uMpho (Mpho has set me alight). I saw a huge flame coming from her flat and I followed her as she was running towards the stairs.

“Her hair was falling off and she had blood on her chest. She was trying to take off her T-shirt, it was burnt and she was trying to remove it from her body, but couldn’t,” Maletsatsi Ngoashe said.

An ambulance was called and Dalingozi was rushed to hospital where she died two days later.

Her uncle, Fezile Dalingozi’s victim impact statement detailed the psychological trauma and financial loss suffered by the family.

He said Dalingozi’s mother and two brothers' health deteriorated and they were diagnosed with depression and anxiety as a result of the gruesome incident.

Fezile said the trips to Johannesburg before and after her niece’s death proved to be very heavy on the family’s pockets.

“Having seen her in that state continues to be traumatic for the mother and the entire family,” Fezile’s read parts of the statement and that Dalingozi's elder brother suffered mental disturbance as a result of losing his only little sister.

Prosecutor Welcome Madela argued that Thobane has shown no remorse and that the family will never see their loved one again.

"The images of their loved ones' last days will stay with them for a lifetime. It is the duty of this court to instill public confidence in our criminal justice system by imposing a sentence indicative of the commitment of the justice system in dealing with gender based violence," he said.

Handing down the sentence, magistrate Hombakazi Thwele said gender based violence was prevalent in South Africa and that society is dependent on our criminal justice system for protection.

"The community deserves to live in a better world, a world in which the life of a female is valued by all," the magistrate said.

Dalingozi, she added, died at the hands of her lover, who was supposed to protect her. She also died at her place where she was supposed to feel safe.

Some of Dalingozi’s family, who travelled all the way from the Eastern Cape for the sentencing, said they were happy with the sentence.

Even if he had been handed down a life sentence, that was not going to bring their daughter back, they said.

Thobane intends to appeal his sentence.


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