Netshisaulu 2006 gruesome murder: Killer wife’s life sentence appeal dismissed

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Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Palesa Dlamini
Johannesburg High Court. Picture: Palesa Dlamini


Convicted murderer Mulalo Sivhidzho’s appeal of a life sentence for the brutal killing of her husband was dismissed by the Johannesburg High Court on Friday.

Chartered accountant Avhatakali Netshisaulu was burnt alive on December 7 2006 and his charred remains were found in the boot of his car in a veld in Muldersdrift, Johannesburg.

DNA tests confirmed Netshisaulu’s identity.

Sentencing in the well publicised murder case was delivered by the same court in 2011.

Sivhidzho was sentenced to life for hiring hitmen, Ntabudzeni Matzhenene and Arnold Sello, to murder her husband of nine months.

Netshisaulu, the son of former City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu, had moved into a new house for a week with Sivhidzho before his murder.

On that fateful night, Netshisaulu’s mother and sister had visited the couple’s new home.

Following sentencing, Sivhidzho filed an initial leave to appeal application against the conviction and sentence which was denied.

However, the Supreme Court of Appeal granted her leave to appeal on December 18 2012, but there was a delay in executing the appeal due to the reconstruction of the record.

Read: Husband killer gets life sentence

In his judgment on Friday, acting Judge Prince Manyathi said considering the circumstances under which Netshisaulu died, like a lamb led to be slaughtered, the sentence imposed did not invoke a sense of shock.

According to his judgment, Netshisaulu had introduced Sivhidzho to Matzhenene as his wife.

The evidence clearly proved that the murder was pre-planned and premeditated.
Acting Judge Prince Manyathi

Evidence before court revealed that although Netshisaulu and Matzhenene grew up together in Venda, they didn’t see each other for many years – until September 2006 when he introduced Sivhidzho to him.

Netshisaulu had requested Matzhenene to look for a place in the squatter camp where he lived in order to open a public phone business.

There were several phone calls made between them starting from September until that fateful day in December 2006.

Read: From rural girl to brutal murderer

On the day, Netshisaulu had an appointment with Matzhenene.

But, he later called his wife saying he was being hijacked. Then he could no longer be reached and his car was later found in flames.

The grounds for Sivhidzho’s appeal included that her confession to police should not have been admitted because she was allegedly tortured.

She also challenged her sentence on the grounds that the court misdirected itself and imposed an unjust sentence.

But Manyathi found that Sivhidzho had voluntarily and freely made her confession and that she had an opportunity to lay a criminal charge of assault when she was out on bail if she had been assaulted.

Phone records between Sivhidzho and Matzhenene on the day of Netshisaulu’s murder formed part of the state’s evidence which indicated that the two were aware of the plot to kill Netshisaulu.

Text messages that Sivhidzho had sent to Tsedu on the evening of Netshisaulu’s funeral on December 23 2006 also formed part of the state’s evidence.

The appellant [Sivhidzho] may not have been at the scene when the deceased was killed, however, after holistically evaluating the evidence, it is clear that she was aware that he was to be killed.
Acting Judge Prince Manyathi

The state viewed these text messages as a “confession of guilt” but Sivhidzo denied this.

However, Manyathi upheld the state’s version.

In part one text message read: “Father in law we buried Avhatakali. Let me say thank you without you I could not make it.”

The second part reads: “Material put us Christians into temptations and do evil things to get materials for this world.

Manyathi found that the trial court committed no material misdirection on the sentence it imposed.

“The appellant [Sivhidzho] may not have been at the scene when the deceased was killed, however, after holistically evaluating the evidence, it is clear that she was aware that he was to be killed that day and she knew where he was to be killed.

“The evidence clearly proved that the murder was pre-planned and premeditated. The deceased was killed in the most horrible manner with cruelty,” Manyathi’s judgment reads.

The pathologist Dr Gina Marie Rowe, who conducted the postmortem, concluded that the cause of death was carbon monoxide toxicity and burns, the judge said.

There was 71% carbon monoxide in Netshisaulu’s blood.

Manyathi said Rowe elaborated that carbon monoxide caused suffocation. He said all evidence had to be taken into account in the trial court’s sentencing discretion.

“As stated, I find no material misdirection. The appellant and the deceased were intimate partners. She outsourced accused number 1 [Matzhenene] to kill her husband. What was aggravating was the fact that this plan was executed while the deceased’s mother and little sister visited and she exposed them to the gruesome sight.

“The sentence was justifiable and fair with no substantial and compelling circumstances present to reduce the minimum sentence of life imprisonment … In the circumstances I order that the appeal on conviction and sentence is dismissed.”


Msindisi Fengu 


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