The High Court: Limpopo Thohoyandou Local Division has handed down life sentences to two men used as killers for hire.
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said Daniel George Maluleke and Faza George Ngomane were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, murder, attempted murder, and malicious damage to property.
A third accused, Hluphekha Michael Baloyi, entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the State, and was convicted and sentenced to 22 years’ imprisonment.
NPA spokesperson, Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said Baloyi turned State witness, and during the trial, the court heard how in July 2016 the accused were hired by a man named Samuel Laphale to kill his elderly relative, Mothlagi Mashao. He claimed that Mashao was a traditional healer and practised witchcraft on him.
“Lephale promised to pay them R15 000, of which R5 000 was paid. Soon thereafter, the accused, including Lephale, were arrested, and Lephale died while the matter was still in the lower court,” Malabi-Dzhangi said.
He said that on July 10, 2016, they attempted to kill Mashao by burning her one-roomed house, but she survived. The second incident happened on July 29, 2016, when the accused set fire to her five-roomed house where Mashao and seven other people were sleeping. An 18-year-old boy was hacked to death, and Mashao was burnt to death. The other six family members survived the attack.
In aggravation of the sentence, Malabi-Dzhangi said state advocate Absah Madzhuta, called the eldest daughter of the old woman, who told the court that the entire family and community members of Rotterdam and Lemondokop were devastated and shattered by their loss and the manner in which the two were killed.
The woman detailed how they have lost their mother and grandson, and the family is still struggling to fix or rebuild their home that was damaged in the fire.
“Advocate Madzhuta further submitted that the accused is convicted of serious offences that involved violence, and cases of this nature are very prevalent. He further said that the court should take into consideration that vulnerable people were targeted and that the victims suffered serious injuries because of these offences and an elderly woman of 75 years of age with her grandson were killed and burnt beyond recognition.
“He concluded by saying that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances in favour of both accused to persuade the court to deviate to a lesser sentence from the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment," Malabi-Dzhangi said.
Maluleke, 47, and Faza George Ngomane, 45, were handed two life terms and 61 years’ imprisonment.
During sentencing, Judge Nare Kgomo said the accused were not suitable candidates for rehabilitation. He further said that the accused should be permanently removed from the community, and an appropriate sentence to be imposed is the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment.
The court then ordered that the accused should not be released on parole before serving 32 and 35 years, respectively.