Cape Town - A Mfuleni man has pleaded guilty to murdering a policeman he suspected of having an affair with his wife.
He then buried Constable Monwabisi Wilford Mnyombolo’s body in a shallow grave in his backyard in October 2009.
Barnabas Sentiwe and his wife, Phumza Veli, appeared in the Western Cape High Court on Thursday.
Veli is accused of being an accessory to murder after the fact, but was not asked to plead.
Sentiwe has entered into a plea and sentence agreement with the State. His lawyer, Penelope Magona, started reading the agreement into the record on Thursday.
In it, Sentiwe admitted that he went to Mnyombolo’s house on the evening of October 24, 2009 and accused him of having an affair with Veli. An argument ensued and Sentiwe stabbed Mnyombolo.
Sentiwe then carried the body home and buried it in the backyard of his Krom Street house.
In April the following year, Sentiwe sold his house to Moses Njovana and Mizana Paul.
Fourteen months later, in May 2011, Paul saw a piece of cloth sticking out of the sand.
She tugged at it, and discovered it was part of a pair of tracksuit pants. Bones fell out of the pants on to the sand.
She called her neighbour, who confirmed that the pants had belonged to his brother, Mnyombolo.
Forensic tests were done and the bones were identified as Mnyombolo’s.
Sentiwe admitted that he had stabbed Mnyombolo once in the chest, which caused his death.
He had agreed to a term of 20 years in prison for the crime, but Judge Robert Henney said he could not finalise the case on Thursday, because he could not convict Sentiwe on the basis of the plea bargain unless he was satisfied that the sentence was just.
Judge Henney asked the prosecution and defence whether the minimum sentence of life imprisonment - at least 25 years - for the murder of a police officer was applicable when an officer was not killed in the line of duty.
The judge asked if whether a minimum sentence of 15 years was possibly suitable.
Judge Henney postponed the case to Friday so the parties could research the issue and report back to the court. - Cape Argus