Man gets life for killing to keep secret

2008-06-12 00:00

A 24-year-old man, who pleaded guilty to murdering an 18-year-old woman in order to stop her from telling his girlfriend that he tried to rape her, was sentenced to life plus 10 years’ imprisonment by high court Judge Kate Pillay yesterday.

The sentences were ordered to run concurrently.

Siphesihle Alfred Dlamini of Swayimane near Wartburg said in a statement that he grabbed Smangele Ngcobo round her neck, pushed her to the ground and strangled her, because he realised that she would tell his girlfriend about the rape attempt and that she might lay a charge against him.

Judge Pillay described the murder as “shocking, callous and gratuitous”. She said society is “fed up” with lawlessness as evidenced by the recent march in Pretoria.

“It seems that most people are touched in some way by wanton acts of violence,” she said.

Dlamini said on the day of the incident — May 19, 2007 — he went to visit his girlfriend, who lived with Ngcobo. She was not at home. He tried to locate her without success and was angry. He returned to her homestead and when Ngcobo realised he was upset she hurriedly left the house.

He pursued her and caught her. In the process he ripped her T-shirt.

“I pushed her to the ground and removed the rest of her clothing. I attempted to kiss [Ngcobo] and she bit my nose. This angered me immensely.”

He said he tried to rape Ngcobo, but did not succeed. As the two of them went home he realised she would tell his girlfriend and decided to kill her.

Dlamini fled, but returned the next morning to look for his sjambok, which he had left behind and which could link him to the crime. He then realised she would be easily found and dragged her body and concealed it in a nearby bush.

He led police to the body following his arrest five days later.

Pillay said there were mitigating factors in the case, being that Dlamini pleaded guilty, was a first offender and the fact that alcohol may have played some role in reducing his inhibitions.

“But this cannot justify what he did to this innocent victim … She had done absolutely nothing to provoke his conduct. Courts have a duty to protect innocent and vulnerable members of society and the only way they can do so is by imposing robust sentences.”

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