Muti murderers get life sentences

By Drum Digital
08 March 2014

A man and a woman found guilty of cutting up a 6-year-old girl for muti before killing her were sentenced to life in prison by the Nelspruit Circuit of the North Gauteng High Court on Friday.

Stella Sibongile Zulu (25) and Sifiso Wonder Vilakazi (49), from Masibekela near Komatipoort, were convicted of murder and abduction, a Sapa correspondent reported. The court found that they killed Dimakatso Shabangu, who went missing on 21 April 2009. Her body was found floating in a river four days later.

"This was planned because you knew that you will benefit. The way the child was killed was horrific," Judge Collin Lamont told Zulu and Vilakazi.

"I can see how the child felt when they removed her parts, while she was alive. You referred to it as [if] it was like a chicken the way she was cut."

Lamont said photographic evidence of the crime was horrific. He said Zulu's description of the murder corresponded with everything in the post-mortem, except for details about the child's tongue, which she said was removed.

"The post-mortem says how it all happened... Private parts were removed, but the tongue was not removed. It shows that she was cut between the legs and the stomach," Lamont said.

He said animals and fish ate at the child's body while it was floating in the river.

"They were doing it [cutting her] while she was alive. Four people were holding her, and one cutting her," Lamont said.

"Her intestines were removed while she was being cut. It was not clear that you saw everything, but that does not mean this case has no weight."

Prosecutor Sonja Ntuli asked the court to sentence the two to life imprisonment. "I submit that the two accused must be sentenced to life.

An innocent child was killed and she could have been alive if it was not for greed," said Ntuli.

Lamont said Zulu's R5 000 bail and Vilakazi's R3 000 bail would be withdrawn, as they were now prisoners of the State. He sentenced them each to life imprisonment for murder, and 15 years for abduction, which will run concurrently.

After sentencing, Zulu asked the court for mercy. "I am very hurt; I also feel pain about this, but I do not know anything about it. I ask the court to exercise mercy on me because I do not know anything," she said.

Outside court, Dimakatso Shabangu's mother, Goodness Sihle Mahlalela, said the two got what they deserved. "I am feeling better with the judgment, but I wish... the court [had] not acquitted the other accused," she said.

On Wednesday, one of the accused, Thabile Mnisi, 33, was acquitted because there was not enough evidence against her.


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