From rural girl to brutal murderer

2010-12-12 09:41

Mulalo Sivhidzho, who ordered the ­brutal murder of her chartered accountant husband four years ago, was a simple, well-mannered rural girl who was seen by many people in her Limpopo village, ­including teachers and the local headman, as one of the area’s “torchbearers”.

The quiet daughter of the well-respected pastor of the Lutheran Church, ­Nthathedzeni Sivhidzho, she was believed by the community to be intelligent, God-fearing and a singer of note.

She was also proud, however, and she looked down on poor people, say her neighbours – former teachers, fellow church members and ordinary people in her home village of Ha-Luvhimbi outside Thohoyandou, about 200km north-east of Polokwane, in the province’s Vhembe district. Her family is not speaking to the press.

Her young brother, Andila (18), disrupted an interview between City Press and his grandmother, Vho-Maria Sivhidzho, rushing in and ordering ­Vho-Maria not to say anything.

“We are okay! What do you want? We take it (the judgment) as it is. There is nothing we can give you,” he screamed.

After stopping to take a call from a man he addressed as “Dad”, he told him he was talking to journalists, before saying: “I do not know what they want. Just go. Go!”

But the neighbours were ready to share their memories, albeit in low and hushed tones.

They did not want to risk crossing swords with the influential and highly ­regarded family.

The Sivhidzhos are popular in the poverty-stricken area. Their face-brick, tiled house stands among mostly mud structures and rondavels in the east of Venda, near the Zimbabwean border.

They spoke of the woman they ­described as a devoted Christian and a pillar of strength for local youths, but one who minded her own business and ­preferred her own space.

She grew up like any other girl in the village, leading her father’s church choir and concentrating on her studies.

Locals said she was very disciplined – a feature that can perhaps be traced back to her father, whom the local headman, Chief Thavhayavhathu Masikhwa, described as “the kind of man who wants order in the village”.

Shocked villagers said they still could not believe that one of their own could have committed such a brutal crime against her husband, Avhatakali Netshisaulu, the son of former City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu.

Most of the local people felt sorry for her but said she deserved severe punishment as she had embarrassed them.

Masikhwa said he “used to regard her as the best in the village”, while some youths from her church said she had brought the church into disrepute.

“I used to regard her in high esteem. She was a torchbearer in the village. We are still shocked,” said Masikhwa.

He would be meeting with members of the Royal Council today to discuss the way forward, which might include helping the Sivhidzhos pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives.

Masikhwa has not spoken to the Sivhidzhos about the case, but plans to do so after sentencing.

At a daily youth choir practice on Wednesday about 20 youths were trying to go about their business, but Sivhidzho’s conviction proved impossible to ignore.

One of them, a 17-year-old girl, said: “We are ashamed because she represented our church negatively. Now people will no longer be interested in our activities.”

Sivhidzho’s former teacher said he was shocked. “Twenty years ago, if I had to choose a lady who would do what she is said to have done, she would not have been my choice.”

Neighbour Mishack Mulaudzi said Sivhidzho “looked down” on other ­people and was generally uncaring.

Another neighbour, Aluwani Nenweli, said he still did not believe Sivhidzho had killed Netshisaulu. He last saw her in 2009 when she had visited her family, but he said she looked unhappy because she “was always walking alone”.

Neighbour Salphina Munyai (40) was blunt and unforgiving. “The daughter of a pastor ... killing her husband. It is embarrassing,” she said.
 

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