Traditional healer who chopped woman's head to pieces sentenced to life

2017-10-04 19:34
(File, Gallo Images)

(File, Gallo Images)

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2017-08-28 14:35

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Durban – A KwaZulu-Natal traditional healer who "influenced" four teenagers to procure a white, coloured or Indian woman's head for him has been sentenced to life in prison.

Sibonakaliso Mbili, 34, was sentenced by Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati at the High Court in Durban on Wednesday afternoon for the killing and decapitating of sex worker Desiree Murugan, 39.

"He used his influence as a sangoma by promising them [teenagers] muthi that would not make them visible to police. I agree with the State that there are no substantial and compelling circumstances that will make the court deviate from the prescribed maximum sentence," said Poyo-Dlwati.

She said she had also taken into consideration the fact that despite strong evidence against Mbili, he maintained his innocence throughout the trial.

The court heard that Mbili chopped Murugan's head into little pieces and placed them in different tins before burying them in his yard.

Murugan, an Indian woman from Chatsworth, in Durban, was stabbed 197 times and beheaded on the evening of August 17, 2014.

R2m promised for head

Her headless body was found at the Shallcross sports field, near Chatsworth, where she was from.

Her head was found buried at Mbili's home in Mfume, on KwaZulu-Natal's South Coast.

Mbili had promised the teenagers R2m if they got the head for him.

The court heard that Mbili told the teenagers that it would be easy to get a prostitute's head.

"No matter what her source of income was, there was no need for her to be killed in such a barbaric manner," said Poyo-Dlwati.

The judge sentenced Mbili's co-accused – who were all under 18 and high school pupils at the time of the offence – to lengthy sentences in prison.

Female co-accused lured victims

Jimmy Stanley Thelejala and Mlungisi Ndlovu were each sentenced to 15 years in prison for their role in Murugan's murder.

Mbali Magwala was sentenced to 12 years in jail for her role in the crime.

The court heard that she was a willing participant in the year-long plan to secure a woman's head and that her role was to lure victims because she was also a female.

"On the night in question, she did not physically take part in the commission of the crime but she is the one who organised the victim," State prosecutor Cheryl Naidu said earlier.

Another teenager, Falakhe Khumalo, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 after he pleaded guilty to Murugan's murder.

Sentence a deterrent

Khumalo and Thelejala stabbed Murugan and Ndlovu decapitated her, the court heard.

"This was done because of greed after accused four [Mbili] promised them a large sum of money. The head was also going to benefit accused four's business as a sangoma," Naidu said.

Poyo-Dlwati said the killing of humans for their body parts was now prevalent in the province and the country.

She said the sentences she gave should serve as a deterrent to would-be offenders "that no matter your beliefs, don't trample other humans' right to life".

She also took into consideration the interest of the community when such "heinous" crimes were committed.

"One can only imagine the shock that the Chatsworth community woke up to when they discovered the beheaded body," she said.

Murugan's younger sister, Jennet Murugan said: "I was pleased that the sangoma was given life imprisonment."

Read more on:    durban  |  courts

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