Bongiwe's mom pleased with life sentences for daughter's killers

2017-02-13 19:19
Bongiwe Ninini's mother Nomlozi Ninini (Jenni Evans, News24)

Bongiwe Ninini's mother Nomlozi Ninini (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - The mother of slain Khayelitsha woman Bongiwe Ninini says she finally feels a sense of peace after the four men who killed her daughter were each sentenced to life in prison on Monday.

"I am happy with the sentence. I think it is fair," said Nomlozi Ninini after four of her late daughter's friends were shown no mercy by acting Judge Mushtak Parker in the Western Cape High Court.

Masimthembe Solontsi, Phumlani Nyewu, Melikhaya Mgushelo and Thabiso Balithoba were found guilty in December of murdering the 19-year-old, who earned a living braiding hair.

She was their friend, and dated one of the men for a while. Parker said not one of them did anything to stop the attack, nor had they shown any remorse.

They killed her and left her in a drain, and simply went about their lives as if nothing had happened, said Parker.

Bongiwe's mother had waited 18 months to hear him say this. On Monday, a small smile showed on her face as she stood in the sun outside the court, happy in the knowledge that all four would stay behind bars.

'Hope that she will find some closure'

Khayelitsha detective Isebenzile Fudumele, 26, was the investigating officer. He sat quietly to the side of the court listening to Parker explain how he had struggled to find the right sentence for the four men, who had never been in trouble with the law before.

They had all left school early for financial reasons - one to support his girlfriend's baby, the others because he could no longer afford it. Although one got a 28s gang tattoo in Pollsmoor Prison after his arrest, he had managed to avoid being drawn into the drug and gang culture.

Born around South Africa's transition from apartheid in the mid-1990s, the four had not had it easy and were cared for by grannies, aunts, and single mothers, but had led relatively normal lives. One even enjoyed preparing the local church for services.

After the sentencing, Fudumele and prosecutor Thabo Ntela accepted murmured congratulations and handshakes.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said they were happy that Parker had handed down the sentence they had wanted.

"And we hope that the mother of Bongiwe Ninini will find some solace knowing that the young men who killed her will spend the rest of their lives in prison, and hope that she [Nomlozi] will find some closure."

'They deserve this'

Ntabazalila congratulated Ntele and police for putting the four behind bars.

Social Justice Coalition activist Nosiphelele Msesiwe said: "No one will bring her back, but they deserve this."

Msesiwe said she appreciated the time Parker took to tell the court again what happened to Ninini, so that people who had not attended the trial could understand the full horror of how she had died.

Parker started sentencing by saying that he had thought long and hard about what the right sentence would be, and even spoke to his friends about it. He called Bongiwe's mother to the witness stand so he could hear from her what Bongiwe had meant to her, and how her daughter's death had affected her.

He was shocked to hear that in the 18 months since her daughter was killed, the grieving woman had not been counselled.

She had told him, through Xhosa interpreter Patrick Make, that she had tried to get counselling, but that there had always been such a long queue at the centre in Khayelitsha that offers these services that she had given up.

Maximum sentence

She had already endured the agony of losing a child in 2004, when her son was killed on his way to a shop in Delft in 2004.

On July 18, 2015, her daughter's body was found in an open cement drain in a veld in Khayelitsha.

Parker noted that Ninini had sustained serious brain, skull and facial injuries. She had been throttled, hit with a bottle, dragged, and "liberally" hit with a spade.

He reminded the court that she had gone to visit Nyewu, an ex-boyfriend with whom she had remained friends, after her current boyfriend went home after a night out at a tavern with friends.

She had wanted to carry on socialising, but instead the four had betrayed her trust and killed her.

Parker followed the Minimum Sentences Act of 1997, which states that unless there are compelling circumstances, he has to impose the maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

He could find none.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime

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