Mpumalanga man jailed for 22 years for murdering girlfriend

By Jonisayi Maromo Time of article published Dec 15, 2021

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PRETORIA – The Mpumalanga High Court, sitting in Graskop, has sentenced 39-year-old Trouble Travel Tlhobogang Gaorutlwe of Matibidi to 22 years direct imprisonment for the murder of his girlfriend, Merriam Maisy Mashego, from Nyongana Trust near Hazyview.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Mpumalanga provincial spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said Gaorutlwe had been convicted of murder, theft and defeating the ends of justice last month.

Gaorutlwe and Mashego were in a romantic relationship.

“On 2 October 2019, an argument about money broke out between the two. It resulted in Gaorutlwe tying Mashego’s hands with a shoe lace, assaulting her with a brick on the skull. She died. He then hid her lifeless body under the bed, locked the bedroom door and fled the scene with the victim’s cellphone,” Nyuswa said.

Mashego’s 16-year-old daughter became worried when her mother did not return home, and reported her missing to the neighbours.

A search was conducted, with the help of the neighbours, and Mashego’s body was discovered.

“The police were alerted and the investigation ensued. Gaorutlwe was linked to the offence through the deceased’s cellphone which was traced and found in possession of his mother in Madibogo village in North West Province. He was arrested,” Nyuswa said.

In court, Gaorutlwe denied involvement in the murder and pleaded not guilty.

“The state relied purely on circumstantial evidence. State advocate, Tula Bekwa led evidence of 17 witnesses including the evidence of the deceased’s daughter who testified that she last saw her mother alive on the morning of the incident.

“The deceased’s twin sister also testified about the knowledge of the relationship between the deceased and Gaorutlwe which confirmed the accused’s identity,” Nyuswa said.

She said in consideration of the evidence led by the prosecution, the court found Gaorutlwe guilty as charged.

Bekwa then addressed the court on the impact of gender-based violence and femicide in South African and its effects on society.

The prosecution also submitted the victim impact statements of Mashego’s brother, her twin sister and her daughter compiled by court preparation manager, Xolile Mzobe.

“Judge Cassim Moosa sentenced Gaorutlwe to 22-years imprisonment for murder, five years for theft and another three years for defeating the ends of justice. He ordered the sentences to run concurrently, with the effective sentence being 22 years imprisonment,” Nyuswa said.

“The court ordered Gaorutlwe to participate in long-term psychotherapy with a focus on behaviour, anger management, and insight – orientated interventions offered by the department of correctional services. He was further declared unfit to possess a firearm.”

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