State wants life term for brutal death by stoning

2013-04-17 00:00

A MSINGA man, Sphamandla Ngubane (35), was found guilty yesterday of murdering a woman by stoning her to death on April 2, 2009, but was acquitted of raping her.

He was also convicted of kidnapping his former lover, Fikile Shange, on the same night. Shange testified that she had escaped after pretending she had to tie her shoelace.

According to Shange’s testimony, she saw the murder victim, Ntombifuthi Hadebe, crying in a vehicle and that she was with Ngubane’s brothers, Mthokozisi and Sandile Ngubane. The two were also charged in the case, but were acquitted of all charges.

Acting Judge Avril Potgieter said that although the court accepted Shange’s evidence as honest and truthful, her identification of Ngubane’s brothers could not be relied on.

She had admitted identifying the two men in moonlight, and their alibi witnesses — albeit their wives — were plausible and had stood the test of cross-examination.

Potgieter said Ngubane had initially pleaded not guilty to all the charges facing him.

Then he unexpectedly told the court he wanted to “come clean” and admitted his involvement in Hadebe’s murder. However, he denied raping her.

Although Ngubane told police in a statement that he had raped Hadebe, the judge said there was no evidence to corroborate this.

He said photographs depicting Hadebe’s injuries showed that her head was “bashed in”, and there was a large bloodied stone in the vicinity of the body. These corroborated Ngubane’s evidence that he and two other men (whom he identified as Mzwandile Shelembe and Sandile Khumalo) had assaulted Hadebe with stones so heavy they’d had to pick them up with both hands.

The motive for the murder was unknown.

Ngubane will be sentenced today.

Defence advocate Di Franklin urged the court to find there were compelling and substantial circumstances justifying less than the prescribed minimum sentence of life imprisonment for the murder.

She argued that Ngubane was capable of rehabilitation, that alcohol had reduced his inhibitions and he had already been in custody for four years.

State advocate Roan du Preez, however, submitted that life imprisonment was appropriate for Ngubane’s crimes.


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