Weeping wife killer gets 15 years

2008-04-09 00:00

A 29-year-old man who admitted to stabbing his common law wife to death in a “jealous rage” over her alleged affair with another man was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a high court judge in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Mthandwa Dlamini of Esigodini, Plessislaer, stood with his hands covering his face, weeping silently, as Judge Kevin Swain passed sentence for the murder of Thembeka Shange on December 24 last year.

Swain commented that too many cases come before the courts in which individuals who are jilted by their girlfriends or wives subject these women to “what they regard as appropriate punishment”, often resulting in death. “A message must be sent that this court won’t tolerate this conduct, even if it is followed by expressions of remorse and co-operation with the police,” the judge said.

State advocate Marshall Zulu submitted that the court ought to impose more than the 15-year prescribed minimum sentence for murder that is not premeditated.

Dlamini’s Legal Aid lawyer, Divesh Mootheram, urged the court to impose less in light of Dlamini’s “genuine remorse” as evidenced by the fact that he immediately telephoned the police at Plessislaer after the murder and confessed.

The court heard that Dlamini waited several hours for police to pick him up and when they failed to arrive, walked to the police station and handed himself over.

Dlamini and Shange were in a relationship for eight years and had a four-year-old child.

Swain said the statement of facts showed that Shange had an affair, which Dlamini discovered on December 22. At around midnight on December 23, while in bed with Shange, he confronted her with her infidelity.

“[Shange] denied the allegations, but overcome with anger, [Dlamini] attempted to assault the deceased. They struggled with each other. The accused reached for a knife that was kept on top of the cupboard and stabbed her several times.”

The post-mortem revealed between eight and 11 stab wounds on her body.

While accepting that Dlamini was genuinely remorseful, co-operated with police, has no previous convictions and inflicted crime “in the heat of a jealous rage”, the judge said the fact remains the attack was “brutal”.

He said that taking all the circumstances into account, he believed 15 years to be an appropriate sentence.


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