‘I killed my cousin for her baby’

2009-08-15 00:00

A WOMAN who murdered her 17-year-old cousin and stole her one-month-old baby driven by “desperate love” and the fear of losing her fiancé if she revealed that she’d suffered a miscarriage was yesterday jailed for 20 years by Acting Judge Kobus Booyens.

Booyens found that the unusual circumstances of the case warranted a sentence less than the prescribed minimum life imprisonment for 23-year-old Nompumelelo Sibiya of Maphumulo. He said courts have to take into account that human beings have feelings and “sometimes do irrational things and emotional things”.

“The accused must have been desperately in love,” he said.

Ironically, Sibiya lost the love of her boyfriend, Joseph Mthetwa, when he discovered her involvement in the murder, which happened on November 30, 2005.

After initially making a full confession and leading police to the body of the victim — Lucia Mtshali — Sibiya skipped bail out of fear of being sentenced to life imprisonment and fled to Durban. After giving birth to her own baby three months ago she realised she could not escape the consequences of her actions and surrendered herself to police, her legal legal aid attorney Ishi Khan said.

He said Sibiya is also willing to testify against her accomplice.

Sibiya said in a statement to the court that Mthetwa was raising lobola to marry her when she suffered a miscarriage in October 2005. Afraid of losing her fiancé, she went to an orphanage in Dalton to try to adopt a newborn, but was turned down because she was single.

In desperation she then thought of a “radical plan” to ask her cousin to help her by pretending that her one-month-old child belonged to Sibiya.

Lucia agreed to let her take the child home and pretend it was hers, and accompanied her.

Sibiya said later that her cousin told her that at some stage she would have to return to her home with her baby. “This caused me to consider what I would have to do to maintain my subterfuge,” she said.

Sibya said she confided in another relative, Sibusiso Mpunzana, who suggested that the baby’s mother should be killed.

On November 30, she lured her cousin to a forest on the pretext of getting herbs to treat “red spots” on the baby’s neck. Mpunzana followed them.

“When we were deep in the forest Sibusiso called my name … I turned around and saw Sibusiso strangling the deceased with a piece of rope. Sibusiso asked me to help him by pulling the rope one way while he pulled in the opposite direction. We both then pulled on the rope ... until the deceased stopped breathing. I left the rope and fled from the scene.”

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