Killer convicted of ‘crime of possession’ jailed for life

Killer convicted of ‘crime of possession’ jailed for life. Picture: File

Killer convicted of ‘crime of possession’ jailed for life. Picture: File

Published Apr 4, 2024


A judge, in sentencing a killer to life imprisonment, noted that “it has been said that there is no such thing as a crime of passion, only a crime of possession”.

Judge Robin Mossop, sitting in the high court in Pietermaritzburg, said that observation seems to apply neatly to the facts of this matter, in which Sifiso Dlamini stabbed his girlfriend's lover to death.

"Some may construe it to be a crime of passion because it involved your former lover but it is, in truth, a crime of possession," the judge told Dlamini.

He told the killer that when his girlfriend was not prepared to continue in a romantic relationship with him, he was not prepared to accept her decision.

"You wanted to continue to possess her and you reckoned that the best way of ensuring that would continue was to kill her new lover. That you then did, in a most brutal way, stabbing the deceased three times, twice in his chest and once in his lower abdomen. And then you walked away and left him to die."

Judge Mossop said there is no doubt that the murder was planned; Dlamini went to his home and waited for him. When he arrived home, Dlamini, from the dark, pounced on him and killed him in silence.

"The deceased could not have expected his fate. He did not resist you and he probably died not knowing why you desired his death," the judge told Dlamini.

Before imposing a life sentence, the judge debated with the state advocate whether a distinction could, or should, be drawn between wicked and evil killers and those that kill out of passion.

"It appears to me, after reflection, that such a distinction can be drawn in the appropriate circumstances. Crimes of passion are generally not premeditated but occur suddenly and impulsively, usually without thought for the consequences. But I do not think it would be proper to make such a distinction when the murder is not committed impulsively, but where it has been thought of, planned and then brought about. For that type of conduct is a manifestation of wickedness and not of true passion," the judge said.

He added that in our law, planning and premeditation have long been recognised as aggravating factors in the case of murder.

“That is not surprising, for planned criminality must by its very nature be regarded as being more reprehensible than an offence committed thoughtlessly on the spur of the moment,” he added.

He said Dlamini is no stranger to violence, as he had previously served a two-year jail sentence for attacking another girlfriend and mother of two of his children with a stick. Dlamini tried to hide the facts of that conviction from the court by explaining that he had injured a male during a traditional stick fight.

But smelling a rat with this explanation, the judge asked the police to provide more details. It then emerged that he had attacked the mother of his children and left her in a pool of blood. She recovered from her wounds after she was discovered on the floor by her mother.

"You have been exposed for what you are, a shameless, manipulative liar. While that much is clear, it is also clear that you are, by nature, a violent person. Your experience in prison did not persuade you to review your attitude to violent behaviour. That is unfortunate, for society hopes that those who commit crime will recognise the error of their ways and make sure that they do not again reoffend," Judge Mossop told Dlamini.

While Dlamini said he was sorry for what he had done, the judge said there is a chasm between regret and remorse. Many accused might well regret their conduct, but that does not automatically translate to genuine remorse.

"Remorse is a gnawing pain of conscience for the plight of another. Thus, genuine contrition can only come from an appreciation and acknowledgement of the extent of one’s error," the judge said.

Pretoria News