Forced to marry, she turned to murder

2008-05-21 00:00

A woman who admitted she brutally murdered her fiancé — her late sister’s widower whom she was being forced to marry — in 2007, was sentenced to an effective 18 years’ imprisonment yesterday.

Judge Kevin Swain with two assessors found that although the victim, Matolweni Simon Kunene (59) died a “cruel and painful” death and his murder by Soliwe Lindiwe Mzobe (32) was premeditated, there were compelling circumstances that justified a sentence of less than the prescribed minimum life imprisonment.

Mzobe, of Mthwalume on the south coast, said in a statement to the court she acted out of “hopelessness, frustration and desperation”.

She pleaded guilty to murder, arson and theft of Kunene’s cellphone and wallet containing R600.

Mzobe revealed in a statement how she and a friend, Zandile Chiliza, came up with a plan to kill Kunene by dousing him and his house with petrol and setting him alight. As a “back-up” they decided to conceal an axe and “nutted stick” outside the house with which to attack him.

Mzobe said on the day in question — November 23, 2007 — Kunene fell asleep and she then stole his cellphone and wallet with the cash.

“Chiliza then gave me petrol, which I poured on to the bed and the deceased. While doing this I accidentally spilled some petrol on to a candle and everything immediately caught alight. [Kunene] caught alight and he and I managed to escape from the burning house. I also suffered burns.

Chiliza and I armed ourselves with the hidden weapons and attacked the deceased. He fell to the ground.”

Mzobe (who suffered burns to her legs) and Kunene were both hospitalised and he died the next day.

Mzobe said Kunene was previously married to her late sister. When her sister died, [Mzobe’s] mother insisted that she marry him, telling her that an unmarried woman was a “disgrace” to the family. On December 29, 2006, she and Kunene were supposed to become engaged, but she fled.

Her family tracked her down and forced her to return.

“My mother advised me that once I’m married to the deceased then she will arrange to have him killed so that I could inherit his estate,” she said.

Mzobe said she told Chiliza of this plan, but was advised not to take part in it.

Subsequently tremendous pressure was put on her by her mother and the community to marry Kunene and she succumbed and agreed to do so.

They were engaged in June 2007.

After this she alleged Kunene started to physically and verbally abuse her, assaulted her and accused her of being involved in a relationship with her friend, Chiliza.

Mzobe said her family would not believe her and thought she was making excuses to end her relationship with Kunene.

In desperation she decided to kill him.

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