An Eastern Cape widow and her two co-accused have been sentenced in the Bhisho High Court. File picture: Pixabay
An Eastern Cape widow and her two co-accused have been sentenced in the Bhisho High Court. File picture: Pixabay

Eastern Cape widow, hitmen sentenced for husband’s murder

By Robin-Lee Francke Time of article published Nov 24, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - A 35-year-old woman from the Eastern Cape and her co-accused were sentenced in the Bhisho High Court for the murder of her husband.

Phumlisa Deyi, 35, and Khanyia Ncumani, 33, were sentenced to life imprisonment for the May 2020 murder of Deyi’s husband, 62-year-old Albert Fundisela Swapi.

The court sentenced Ncumani to a further 15 years in prison for robbery with aggravating circumstances, while co-accused Siyabulela Nzelani, 26, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for robbery.

The court found Nzelani’s crime to be spur of the moment and not premeditated as that of his co-accused.

During the trial, the court heard that Deyi and her husband, Swapi, lived with their two minor children in Mgababa in Peddie.

Deyi and Ncumani knew each other well as they grew up in the same area in Mpekweni in Peddie.

Deyi and Ncumani were in regular contact with each other via social media and this is where she solicited his services to rob and murder her husband.

It remains unclear why she contracted a hit on her husband and she did not take the court into her confidence to reveal her motive.

As evidence before the court, on May 25, 2020, Ncumani and Nzelani smoked mandrax and dagga in Mpekweni. Ncumani convinced Nzelani to accompany him to Deyi’s home. They arrived at about 6pm, where they found the couple and their sons.

The court heard that Nzelani grabbed Deyi and took her to the bedroom while Ncumani and Swapi were in the lounge. Swapi was continuously assaulted on the head with a heavy, blunt object.

The men left the scene and took Deyi’s cellphone and cash from the home.

After the men had left, Deyi ran outside, screaming for help from neighbours.

Swapi died in hospital due to his injuries.

Ncumani and Nzelani were arrested by detectives on June 3, 2020. Police also seized Deyi’s phone at Nzelani’s home.

Evidence revealed that days prior to the crime, Deyi had sent messages to Ncumani via Facebook, asking him to remove her husband’s dangerous hunting dog from their property. She further asked Ncumani to source a buyer for the dog.

He agreed, and the dog would be collected on May 25, 2020, the same day as the murder.

However, the court established that the “dog” mentioned in the messages referred to the deceased.

Deyi was arrested on June 4, 2020.

The court accepted evidence presented that Deyi had carefully and cunningly conspired with Ncumani to plan her husband’s murder down to the finest detail.

During sentencing, presiding Judge Igna Stretch agreed with the prosecutor, advocate Deolin Willemse, that if a crime like this was viewed by society as an abhorrence, then the sentence should reflect that.

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