Killer gardener gets life

2011-09-27 00:00

TWO men yesterday pleaded guilty at the Pietermaritzburg high court and were each sentenced to life imprisonment, with an additional 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, for the recent murder of retired 65-year-old nursing sister Maalthie Dhevi “Bubbles” Mownchan.

Justin Mjoli (19) and Mandlenkosi Dlamini (26) pleaded guilty to murdering Mownchan and robbing her of her cellphone in her home in Samana Road, Orient Heights on September 6.

Mjoli and Dlamini told the court they were looking for some quick money.

Mjoli, who declined the services of the interpreter, said they planned together to rob Mownchan. He entered Mownchan’s premises alone under the pretext of seeking re-employment.

While he was speaking to Mownchan in the yard, Dlamini slipped in and grabbed Mownchan around her neck. He said he told her to keep quiet as they only wanted to rob her of money, but she saw the knife in their possession and started screaming.

“I stabbed her a few times in quick succession in her neck. She stopped crying out aloud. Dlamini assaulted Mownchan with a hose pipe. She pushed me away from her whilst [I was] stabbing her, as a result the blade of the knife became embedded in her neck,” said Mjoli.

Prosecutor Dheelen Naidoo said even though they don’t have previous convictions the court should consider the fact that Mownchan was a retired nursing sister working part time at St Anne’s Hospital supporting her daughter and voluntarily helping people who were recovering from operations.

Naidoo said Mownchan’s daughter is still traumatised, as she was in the house when her mother was attacked.

Judge Esther Steyn said this was a senseless killing and that what Mjoli and Dlamini did further fuels people’s fear of employing anyone from the streets as they don’t know what will happen to them.

“Mjoli, you abused the position of trust as you were previously employed by her and you killed her in the comfort of her home where she felt safe,” said Steyn.

The postmortem report showed that the 13 cm blade of the pocket knife was embedded in Mownchan’s neck. There were four stab wounds.

Defence attorney Kelvin Singh applied for leave to appeal, but the court refused, saying no other court would impose a different sentence.

People in the public gallery whispered “yes” at this.

Outside, Mownchan’s family hugged and kissed tearfully, but declined to speak to the media.

Later, Mownchan’s brother Freddy Mownchan told The Witness they are very happy that the killers are behind bars.

“We are happy that the suspects were speedily caught, appeared in court and sentenced for their wrongdoing.”

He also commended the police for working tirelessly to arrest Mjoli and Dlamini. He added that Mownchan’s daughter will be staying with family until she is brave enough to stay at the house.

Acting Pietermaritzburg Cluster commander Brigadier Clifford Marion said the sentencing of Mjoli and Dlamini was the “effective, fast and furious type of justice” that the police are aiming for. He also commended the investigating officers for the sterling work in the apprehension and sentencing of the accused.

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