The father of slain University of Fort Hare student Nosicelo Mtebeni said he was unhappy with the 25-year sentence handed down to Alutha Pasile, who killed his daughter and dismembered her body.
On Thursday, Judge Nomathamsanqa Beshe handed down judgment in the murder trial, sentencing Pasile to 25 years for the murder of Nosicelo, and 10 years for attempting to defeat the ends of justice by dismembering her body in an attempt to conceal the crime.
The sentences will run concurrently.
Possibility of parole
Speaking shortly after the sentencing, Kholisile said: “There are a lot of things I could say as the reason for my dissatisfaction. You cannot be lenient when sentencing someone who has chopped off somebody and tried to evade justice.”
Kholisile said he was worried that Pasile would one day qualify for parole and come out of prison and continue with his life, while his daughter was no more.
He believed justice was served, but not to his satisfaction. Kholisile said:
He said there was nothing anybody could do now but accept all that had happened and move on with life.
Pasile, who killed Nosicelo after he suspected that she was cheating, cut a lone figure in court as sentencing was being handed down, often looking at the ground with his hands covering his face.
He sobbed heavily and did not make eye contact with anyone in court.
The court previously heard that Pasile had searched for proof that Nosicelo was cheating and when he went through her phone, he came across messages that read: “I love you” and “I miss you”. Pasile concluded that they came from her lover.
But in a sad twist of events, it was revealed in court on Thursday that, after thorough investigation, the messages were found to be from Pasile to Nosicelo in 2019, when their relationship was still new.
During mitigation of sentence arguments, Pasile’s lawyer Ncumisa Dyantyi asked the court to consider phis personal circumstances and the interests of justice.
She said Pasile was single, had no children, had two diplomas and was not permanently employed, relying on odd jobs.
“He doesn’t have previous convictions. Has been in custody since his arrest in August,” she said.
“Social worker [Nomonde Stemper] testified that the accused is a well-mannered child,” Dyantyi said.
She said the fact that he pleaded guilty and did not waste the court’s time should be taken into consideration when imposing the sentence.
Dyantyi said what the accused did in dismembering the body of the deceased was undoubtedly horrible, but he did not have direct intentions of killing Mtebeni because the incident started with an alteration over what was contained in her phone.
Acted as if he owned her
In her closing arguments, state prosecutor Nickie Turner said the evidence against Pasile was overwhelming and that he had no choice but to plead guilty.
“Had the accused not been seen by the two women [carrying the suitcase containing Nosicelo’s body parts] there would have been no leads. The accused had the keys to the identity of the deceased, because when he dumped the rest of her body in some street corner, he held on to the head and hands in order to conceal her identity.
“Nosicelo would have been registered as another missing person,” argued Turner.
She added that the action of dismembering her body was premeditated.
She said whether the deceased was having an affair with someone else was irrelevant and that she had a right to self-determination.
“The accused acted as if he owned her,” Turner said. “He has had complete disregard for her life.”
She recounted how, after killing Nosicelo, Pasile had written a message to one of his friends to ask to borrow a saw. The message read in court said: “Bob, my man, don’t you have a saw? I want to cut something. Anyone with a saw I am prepared to pay R50 to borrow it”.
Turner said that Pasile referring to the body of a woman he once claimed to love as a “something” that proved just how dangerous and unremorseful he was.
“Our courts need to send a strong message”.
She argued that the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years would be wholly inadequate.
“I submit that this court should sentence this accused to life imprisonment,” concluded Turner.
When handing down judgment, Judge Beshe said the court had to consider the crime, the accused and the interest of justice in reaching a sentence.
“I know members of society and family of the deceased are angry and have every right to be,” said Beshe.
“I agree that the only appropriate sentence is direct imprisonment ... the accused has not shown genuine remorse,” said Beshe.
She said there was nowhere the accused said he was distraught for taking the life of the love of his life, and that even in the evidence of the social worker, there was no sign that Pasile ever showed remorse.
Beshe said as the country marked the 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, one wonders what it would take for everybody to understand that women have rights too.
She said the accused did not respect other people’s rights and did not respect the deceased even in her death.
Judge Beshe said it was the duty of the courts to protect society, and this can be shown even by harsh sentences.