10 years for mom-killing baby thief

2008-07-18 00:00

High Court Judge Thumba Pillay yesterday sentenced a south coast woman, Hlengiwe Princess Mngoma (27), to 10 years’ imprisonment for the murder of a young mother and to two years under correctional supervision for kidnapping the woman’s baby last year.

The judge said the sentence aims to ensure the accused is punished for the “dastardly” murder and kidnapping, taking into account the dangers she poses to herself, family and the community at large. He tried to structure the sentence to ensure that Mngoma’s rehabilitation is not left to chance.

Mngoma pleaded guilty to stabbing 18-year-old mother Nokubonga Khuzwayo on December 4 last year at Amalangeni near Umzinto so she could take her six-week-old daughter, Owami. Khuzwayo died in hospital on December 22.

Mngoma said her crimes were spurred by “depression, desperation, trauma and fear” after she suffered a second miscarriage in August 2007 and was told she would not be able to have children.

“I live in a patriarchal community where a woman who cannot bear children is scorned, looked down upon and is seen as somebody with no purpose. My boyfriend was eagerly awaiting the birth of our child and I didn’t tell him about the miscarriage. He had blamed me for the death of my first child and I was afraid he would leave me,” said Mngoma.

On December 4, she went to G.J. Crooks Hospital in Scottburgh, lured Khuzwayo by telling her she knew where to get baby’s milk at a good price and en route stabbed her and took the baby.

Her family were “ecstatic” when she produced the baby, pretending it was her own.

The judge accepted the report of chief clinical psychologist Professor A.L. Pillay that Mngoma’s life circumstances in the two years before the crime were stressful. She discovered she was ill, and had two unsuccessful pregnancies in the face of a relationship that demanded she produce a child.

He said she appears to have been depressed and felt less of a woman for not having a child. He said the stresses led her to formulate “a solution in an impulsive manner”. He said, in her favour, she confessed to the crimes.

On the other hand, he said, an innocent life was lost. While finding her trauma, clean record, health and remorse justified less than the prescribed life imprisonment, he said it would make a mockery of the justice system if a severe sentence was not imposed.

“She [Mngoma] is young, acknowledged her wrongdoing and is reasonably well educated. There are good prospects for her rehabilitation … she even volunteered to pay for the deceased’s child’s education.

“This is not the usual run-of-the-mill murder that one usually encounters. It was not motivated by greed, but by a deeply felt emotional need to have a child, however misguided and irrational she may have been,” the judge said.

Judge Pillay ordered that Mngoma may not be parolled until she has served five years.

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