Killer skipped ‘lover’s’ funeral to go to dry-cleaner

2013-10-17 17:18

A man found guilty of raping and murdering a Nelspruit airport employee told the court he didn’t attend the victim’s funeral because he “had to go to a dry-cleaner in White River”.

Sibusiso Wonder Phelembe (29) testified in mitigation of sentence in the Nelspruit circuit of the high court in Pretoria today.

Phelembe was convicted yesterday of robbing, raping and murdering Nonkululeko Thandi Khoza with a hammer at her home in Dwaleni Trust, outside White River, on May 21 2010.

His co-accused, Justin Fanyana Malambe (41), also an employee of the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport, was convicted of robbery and murder.

Yesterday, Judge Daisy Molefe denied a defence request to acquit Malambe, finding that he was implicated by sweat found on a hammer handle used in the murder.

Phelembe’s semen was found on Khoza and her cellphone was traced to him, Molefe found.

But Phelembe claimed he had had consensual sex with Khoza.

Want to know how many murders have been reported in your neighbourhood since 2004? See our crime stats tool here.


Today, Phelembe testified that he was having a love affair with Khoza.

“On the night before the murder, she came to my place and we had consensual sex,” he told the court, adding that they had swapped cellphones.

He later gave the cellphone to his other girlfriend, Ruth Mabuye.

“I only heard about her (Khoza’s) death from the community. I could not attend the funeral as I had to go to a dry-cleaner in White River,” he testified.

Prosecutor Kenneth Mashile submitted that this was a fabrication.

Mashile said Khoza died at her house and the semen found on her genitals linked her to Phelembe.

“Whether the proven facts exclude any other references, the evidence of the accused is not reasonably true,” he submitted.

Molefe postponed the matter to Tuesday.

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