Palesa Madiba, 20, went missing on 12 August while on her way to the UJ's Soweto campus. Picture: Supplied
Palesa Madiba, 20, went missing on 12 August while on her way to the UJ's Soweto campus. Picture: Supplied

Court sentences killer of UJ student to 31 years’ imprisonment

By IOL Reporter Time of article published Feb 26, 2021

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DUMISANI Ronald Mkhwanazi, the man who killed University of Johannesburg student Palesa Madiba in August 2013, has been sentenced.

Breaking down the sentencing, NPA spokesperson, Phindi Mjonondwane, said Mkhwanazi was sentenced to 20 years for murder, three years for the theft of Madiba's phone, eight years for defeating the ends of justice, 10 years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and two years for unlawful possession of ammunition. Some of the sentences were ordered to run concurrently with the murder sentence, resulting in an effective 31 years’ imprisonment.

Mkhwanazi was arrested in December 2015, following the discovery of Madiba's remains in his backyard at his home in Phiri, Soweto.

Madiba went missing on 12 August 2013 after spending the weekend at the Mkhwanazi home, visiting her friend and Mkhwanazi's niece, Tshidi Mkhwanazi.

Tshidi testified as a state witness and told the court that when she left home for work, Madiba was preparing to go the Soweto UJ Campus to attend classes.

She said she got worried when she could not get hold of Madiba on her cellphone later that same day and when she discovered that Madiba never made it to class, nor her family home. This prompted her and Madiba's family to open a missing person's docket.

The police search, together with the family, was unsuccessful until 16 December 2019 when police received information from Mkhwanazi's friend, Richard Mahlangu, that Mkhwanazi told him he had "crushed" Madiba.

Mahlangu had asked about Madiba's whereabouts when Mkhwanazi revealed the details.

The postmortem conducted on Madiba's remains was consistent with Mkhwanazi's admission to Mahlangu. His evidence was corroborated by an expert witness, who testified her skull had been crushed.

Mjonondwane said senior state advocate, Faghre Mohammed, relied on circumstantial evidence to prove Mkhwanazi's guilt as there was no direct evidence from anyone who saw Mkhwanzi killing and/or burying Madiba.

Mohammed said gender based violence was a threat to our nascent democracy and society looked to the court to exterminate it at its roots.

"I therefore request this court to consider aggravating factors such as lack of remorse, concealment of evidence as well as the gruesome actions of the accused as reason enough to impose a sentence in excess of the minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years for murder," Mohammed said.


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