Cape Town. 091210. Sangoma Jean Eagle Little Stone reads his cards on his prediction for the year ahead. Picture Leon Lestrade. Story Thanda Mhlanga.

Pretoria - A sangoma lost his North Gauteng High Court bid to appeal against his life sentence for murder after a judge found he was responsible for decapitating a woman, possibly to use her head for “muti”.

Jan Buti Mokoena insisted he was not responsible for the death of Rosilina Mnomakala, whose decomposed body was found in a mealie field days after she was killed.

Mokoena was convicted on strength of DNA evidence. This was found on a cigarette butt and on a beer bottle which were found close to the body.

Acting Judge S Strauss, in turning down the appeal, said: “It is unclear why anyone would want to commit such a gruesome act. The only possible explanation could be that the appellant is a sangoma and that it might have had something to do with practising his art as a witchdoctor or sangoma.”

The judge added that this was speculation, but “due to the fact that the victim’s life was ended in the most brutal fashion and the way in which the murder was committed by decapitation points to the most vicious murder imaginable”.

“People like the appellant cannot be tolerated in our society.”

The body was discovered in a field of mealies next to the N12 highway near Delmas on April 6, 1999. The field was concealed from any passers-by and the nearest road to the spot where the body was found was 200m away.

The woman was near naked, but her bloodstained clothes were found scattered around her body.

The judge said the most chilling factor was that her head and neck were missing, and were never found.

Mokoena stood trial with his brother in the circuit court sitting in Delmas. He said they knew the woman and they all had a few drinks together on April 2, 1999. They went to her house that day, but later left. He did not see the woman again.

While admitting he was a sangoma, Mokoena denied that he went to the maize field, but could not explain how his DNA was found on the items next to the body.

A doctor who examined the body testified that it was not possible to determine the cause of death, as apart from being decapitated, there were no other marks on the body.

The doctor said it was likely the head was removed after her death.

He speculated that she was probably hit over the head with something before her head was removed.

The judge said it was clear that Mokoena had been at the scene where the headless body was found.

Pretoria News