Johannesburg - Desperate to have a baby to please her boyfriend and his family, Zandile Makulana pretended she was pregnant and later stole another woman’s foetus from her abdomen.
Today, Makulana, 25, is serving a 20-year sentence for two murders – one for the pregnant woman who died after her abdomen was slashed open with a pair of scissors, and another for the foetus that died immediately after being taken from its mother’s womb.
Sentencing her in the South Gauteng High Court in Joburg on Friday, acting Judge Brian Mashile said an appropriate sentence for Makulana would probably have been two life sentences, but he accepted the one suggested by the State – 20 years.
“Under normal circumstances you would probably be given two life sentences but the court accepts the personal circumstances presented to this court as substantial and compelling,” Mashile said.
Makulana was arrested last year after Pretty Tsanga’s burnt body, with the abdomen cut open, was discovered in a nearby soccer field.
She accepted responsibility and entered into a plea bargain with the State, laying bare the facts of her life that led to the commission of the crimes.
She was only 16 when her poor family married her off in exchange for some gifts. She fell pregnant shortly afterwards but miscarried. Young and unable to conceive again, her in-laws abused and mistreated her.
Her childlessness made her an object of scorn in the community. To add insult to injury, her husband met another woman who bore him children. They made Makulana sleep on the floor as they had sex on the bed in the same room.
Unable to take the abuse anymore, she left the Eastern Cape and came to Joburg where she got involved with another man.
She fell pregnant but miscarried again. She was unable to fall pregnant again. Although her boyfriend never pressured her to have a baby, Makulana felt that if she gave him a male child, he would love and eventually marry her.
She started obsessing about being pregnant and hatched a plan with an old woman in the area to steal the baby of her neighbour, Pretty Tsanga.
Makulana gained weight, told everyone she was pregnant and bought baby clothes.
Her boyfriend and his family started giving her special treatment.
One day, she lured Tsanga from her home to a house where two men overpowered and strangled her.
The old woman cut Tsanga’s body with a pair of scissors, removed the baby girl, and handed her to Makulana.
The child died shortly afterwards, but Makulana was undeterred.
She later presented the lifeless infant baby to her boyfriend, saying she had given birth in the veld.
The boyfriend, unaware that his girlfriend was holding on to a dead baby, took Makulana and the baby to hospital.
Makulana’s intention was to exchange the baby for a live one at the hospital.
But upon examination, medical staff realised she was never pregnant. She was arrested.
On Friday, Tsanga’s family left the court disappointed. They had come to court expecting a life sentence.
Family friend Isaac Jiyane, 67, was on the verge of tears.
“What is 20 years? They should rather release her because it’s the same as not giving her any sentence. She killed her (Tsanga) brutally and took her baby out of her stomach,” he said.
The sentence also angered Tsanga’s sister, Cebisile: “This sentence does not satisfy me at all. I asked the prosecutor why they don’t rather let Makulana go because the sentence is too low for someone who killed two people,” the angry Cebisile said.
The hunt is on for others who took part in Tsanga’s murder.