Uncle blamed devil for killing child

Uncle sentenced to life imprisonment for brutally killing his toddler nephew. Picture: File

Uncle sentenced to life imprisonment for brutally killing his toddler nephew. Picture: File

Published Apr 2, 2024


An uncle who said the devil took possession of him and he therefore killed his one-year-old nephew as a “satanic sacrifice,” will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, sentenced Sipho Vincent Maseko, 37, from Ekangala, to life imprisonment for brutally killing his toddler nephew.

The court ordered that he be declared unfit to possess a firearm and that the police conduct a search and seizure of firearms at his home.

The court further ordered that the mother of the deceased be informed, should Maseko ever be eligible for parole, and make representations, Lumka Mahanjana, Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson said.

The child, Nkazimulo Theodore Penga, and his mother stayed at her parental home in Ekangala with her parents. On September 30, 2020, a day before the deceased turned a year old, Maseko, who is a brother to the child’s mother, visited his parental home where the child was left with the helper because the mother had gone to work.

He then sent the helper to the shop to buy airtime. While the helper was out, Maseko strangled the child with a rope, jumped on his chest several times, and poured boiling water on his face.

He then ran to nearby bushes to hide.

When the helper returned from the shop, she found the lifeless body of the child tucked under covers, on the bed.

After a few hours of hiding Maseko called his family. When he heard the commotion of the community over the phone, he went to the police and handed himself over and has been in custody since.

He pleaded guilty to the charge of premeditated murder and explained that he killed his nephew as a form of satanic sacrifice, in a bid to get money.

Maseko said on the day he killed the child, he was not himself. He blamed the devil for “taking me over.”

He also told the court that he had previously tried to kill his nephew two weeks prior to this incident by smothering him with his hand, but the child had survived that attempt because he cried.

However, he said, after the first attempt, the child sustained permanent damage which resulted in him being disabled.

During the sentencing proceedings, prosecutor, advocate Andre Wilsenach read into the record the victim impact statement where the mother of the child described her brother as a monster and “the devil himself”.

She said the incident had left her emotionally damaged. She went through a phase of consuming alcohol to numb the pain. This resulted in her miscarrying her pregnancy because of stress, and an inability to sleep.

The mother, who now has a four-month-old baby said she fears for the child, as she was terrified that what happened to her deceased son could happen again.

In aggravation of sentence, Wilsenach told the court that Maseko did not show true remorse. He never apologised to the family for what he did. He sacrificed the child because he wanted a fortune and was motivated by greed, the prosecutor said.

Therefore, he asked the court to impose a just sentence of life imprisonment.

Judge Mashudu Munzhelele, agreed with the state that Maseko was motivated by greed, and instead of taking responsibility, he shifted the blame to the devil. He failed to protect a child. Instead the boy suffered at the hands of his own uncle.

Therefore, Judge Munzhelele said she found no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence and that she hoped the sentence would educate the public about the importance of protecting the most vulnerable.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Advocate Sibongile Mzinyathi welcomed the sentence imposed for the gruesome and senseless killing of a child.

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