A Gauteng man was sentenced to life in prison for hacking his girlfriend with an axe on the skull and leg and setting her alight in the presence of her son, who was standing at the door.
The North Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, sentenced John Sifiso Sibanyoni, 36, from Mamelodi East to one life term for the murder of his girlfriend, Gadifele Promise Mdletshe, aged 25.
He was further sentenced to an additional 15 years of direct imprisonment for arson.
Sibanyoni's sentencing emanates from the February 3, 2021, incident, where the two argued at the home they shared in Mamelodi, and during the argument, Sibanyoni threatened to kill the deceased.
"During that point, the deceased ran out with her 10-year-old son. However, Sibanyoni managed to catch up with her, drag her back to the shack, hack her with an axe on the skull and leg, and set her alight in the presence of her son, who was standing at the door," NPA regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana said.
"After realising that his mother was burning, the boy ran to the neighbours to report the incident," Mahanjana said.
Mahanjana added that after committing the offence, Sibanyoni fled the scene; however, he was arrested a few days later, on February 7, 2021, after he handed himself over to the police.
"Due to his delayed appearance in court, the matter was withdrawn, and Sibanyoni was re-arrested again on September 20, 2022, in Mpumalanga and has been in custody since," she said.
Mahanjana said that the accused pleaded not guilty to the charges in court and said he hacked the deceased with an axe by mistake while trying to stop her from setting the shack alight.
The State prosecutor, advocate Sipho Lalane, was able to debunk that evidence and prove that Sibanyoni indeed killed his girlfriend.
He also read into the record the son’s victim impact statement, facilitated by the Court Preparation Officer, Lebogang Lebese, where the son told the court that he has been unhappy since his mother’s death.
In aggravation, advocate Lalane asked the court to impose a sentence of life imprisonment because the murder was premeditated.
"He also brought to the attention of the court that Sibanyoni had two previous convictions for similar offences, where he was convicted of assault and malicious injury to property.
“Lalane told the court that it had a duty to protect the most vulnerable groups in society, which are children and women.
“Judge Mnisi agreed with the state and further said that he was of the view that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence,” Mahanjana said.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi, welcomes the sentences and applauds the work of the investigating officer, Sergeant Mashego Onismus Masha, of the SAPS, which led to the conviction and sentencing.
Mzinyathi further said he hopes the sentence will send a message that crimes of GBV will not be tolerated.