Pretoria - A Pretoria High Court judge on Friday quoted a Zulu woman's struggle song from the 1950s before sentencing a man to life imprisonment for murdering his girlfriend and unborn child.
“Pregnant women are revered and protected in our society. That protection extends to every woman, be she pregnant or not, be she young or old,” Judge George Webster said before sentencing Tshepo Nkomo, 34, for the February 2013 murder of his girlfriend, Baleseng “Bali” Motshwane.
“Wathint' Abafazi, Wathint' Imbokodo (you strike the woman, you strike the rock).
“If the accused has never heard of it, he must try to remember it,” Webster said.
Motshwane was eight months' pregnant with Nkomo's child when he stabbed her in the chest, leaving her to bleed to death after locking her up in her Brakpan apartment.
Her decomposing body was found days later with her stillborn child between her legs after her mother and employer became worried about her.
Nkomo worked as a production manager at a tyre manufacturer at the time.
He begged the court to impose a more lenient sentence because he was the sole supporter of his two young children with another woman.
Nkomo denied having anything to do with Motshwane's death but admitted withdrawing money from his dead lover's bank account and using some of it to buy spares for his car.
He was sentenced to an additional 25 years' imprisonment for robbing Motshwane of her bank card and twice withdrawing R3 000 from her account. All sentences would run concurrently with his life sentence.
Webster described the murder as brutal and Nkomo's conduct as brazen, despicable, and callous.
He said the fact that the baby had been expelled from the mother's body could in itself have constituted murder because it was a full-term baby.
He said the motive for the attack had not been disclosed to the court. One of the most probable reasons was that Nkomo wanted money from her.
Nkomo knew Motshwane's family needed money for her funeral, did not hand over her bank card, but instead withdrew money for a second time and then conveniently “lost” the card.
Nkomo had absolutely no feelings, either for his pregnant girlfriend or his unborn child, and the only fit sentence for him was life imprisonment, Webster added.
Motshwane's family and friends, many of them dressed in T-shirts with a picture of her face on it, cheered when Nkomo was sentenced.
“God is great. Hallelujah. Amen. Justice is served,” some cried out.
Motshwane's mother Johanna and other family members expressed satisfaction that justice had been done.
Motshwane's mother was still mourning the death of her husband a few months earlier when her daughter was murdered and she had to incur debts to bury her.
“This life from 5 February last year was hell for me. I was praying for God to give me strength. I want to thank God that at last justice is done,” she said.
Motshwane said she was a Christian and did not hate Nkomo, but would pray that he could change his life and be saved in prison because he was also a child of God.