Wrong man torched

2013-03-05 00:00

HELL hath no fury like a woman scorned.

This is the adage the state will try to prove in the case against a woman accused of trying to kill her boyfriend, because he apparently liked girls.

To get back at him, says the state, the woman set fire to the boyfriend’s shack, but then fled when she realised she had “burnt the wrong people”. One man was burnt to death and another escaped with burn wounds. However, neither was the boyfriend, who was completely unscathed because he was not home at the time.

This evidence was given in the Pietermaritzburg high court yesterday by an alleged accomplice testifying in the arson, murder and attempted murder trial of Senzosihle Sikhakhane (25) and Sibongiseni Mkhize (23), and a woman, Goodness Mchunu (35).

The trio pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The murder charge arises from the death of Siyabonga Hlengwa, who was burned alive in Lidgetton in June 2010.

The prosecution says the other occupant of the house, Mlungisi Mchunu, escaped with burn wounds to his body.

The target of the arson attack, Msawenkosi Hlengwa, was not at home at the time of the incident and arrived to find his shack in flames.

State witness Kombisile Vilakazi told the court she and Mchunu had been friends until the incident.

She said she was present when Mkhize poured petrol around the shack inhabited by Msawenkosi Hlengwa.

Mchunu, said Vilakazi, then lit a match or gas lighter, setting fire to the house.

Vilakazi said the occupants “started screaming” and she could tell from the voices that they were males.

“When [Mchunu] heard that these people were boys, she said: ‘I have burnt the wrong people’ … while she started to run away.”

Vilakazi said a day earlier she, Mchunu and another friend had been sitting together “talking about boyfriends”.

Mchunu had commented that her boyfriend was “troubling” her because he liked girls.

“She ended up by saying that there was something she was going to do to him, but she didn’t explain,” said Vilakazi.

That evening, two men had come to her house and one, Bheki Mlotshwa, asked her “what was happening” with Mchunu. He’d said Mchunu was “trying to buy” them to kill her boyfriend, but they’d refused.

Vilakazi said she spent the next day in

Mchunu’s company, watching a “game” at Harry Gwala Stadium, and that night they’d socialised together, drinking wine at a local tavern. One of the people in their company was Mkhize.

At some point Mchunu asked Vilakazi and Mkhize to accompany her to Hlengwa’s shack to “see if he was still in the company of the female she’d seen him with”.

She had also seen Mkhize siphon petrol from a vehicle into a two-litre container.

At about 11.30 pm the trio walked to where Hlengwa lived. They were joined by Sikhakhane, whose house was nearby.

Vilakazi said Mchunu asked her to “peep” into Hlengwa’s house to see who was inside.

However, the shack was not lit and there was only moonlight outside, said Vilakazi.

All she saw through a window were two people asleep inside. She’d signalled to the others to join her.

Vilakazi said Mkhize had poured petrol all around the shack, which Mchunu then set fire to. As the shack started burning, the “boys” inside started screaming.

Vilakazi said Mkhize and Mchunu had fled. Sikhakhane also ran away, but returned and tried to extinguish the fire.

The case is continuing.

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