Man who was considered 'part of the family' gets 20 years in jail for grandmother's murder

2018-07-26 16:29
SA prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

SA prison. (Jackie Clausen, Gallo Images, Sunday Times)

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Why did he do it?

This is the lingering question on the minds of the family of 91-year-old Ragamma Naidu who was murdered in their Tongaat home by a man they had employed as a part-time handyman for 15 years.

"I miss my mom so much," Vee Naidu told News24 on Thursday after 47-year-old Dominic Cebisa was sentenced in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court to an effective 20 years in jail for the crime.

She said Cebisa was "treated like a member of our family".

"She had lived with my husband and I for 10 years. During that time, I never had to cook or wash dishes. She did it all. She loved to the read the newspaper, and she didn't even have to use glasses," Vee said of her mother.

"Her memory was amazing. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved to listen to her stories about her life," she added.

Ragamma was found dead next to her bed in October 2016. She had been battered around the head, suffocated and strangled.

Not guilty plea

Cebisa had been at the house the day before to discuss putting up fencing and knew that the pensioner would be at home on her own.

It is believed Ragamma let him in when he knocked on the door.

It appeared that he dragged her into the bedroom, gagged her, trussed her up and strangled her before stealing cellphone airtime vouchers, R1 500 in cash, cigarettes, a six-pack of beers and a hammer.

Vee said the family never suspected Cebisa "and he would still be employed to this day" if he hadn't been arrested after he sold some of the vouchers at a local tavern.

While Cebisa pleaded not guilty, claiming he was nowhere near the house that day, Acting Judge Bert Laing rejected his version.

Handing down the sentence, Laing said he agreed with the submission of state advocate Khatija Essack that the brutality of the crime warranted a sentence greater than the 15-year sentence for murder as laid down by minimum sentence legislation.

15 years for robbery

The judge said the evidence before him was that there had been no bad blood "and you were part of the extended family".

"It seems greed got the better of you and your daily trips to the tavern had become an expensive exercise.

"But we will always wonder what drove you to kill a harmless elderly lady," he said.

He said there were only aggravating circumstances in the case and the fact that Cebisa was "terminally ill" did not change matters.

He sentenced Cebisa to 15 years for robbery and 20 years for the murder and ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

Read more on:    durban  |  crime

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