Life in prison for 2 men who beheaded pregnant woman and tried to sell her head

Edward Raatji confers with his lawyer following sentencing. (Chester Makana, News24 correspondent)
Edward Raatji confers with his lawyer following sentencing. (Chester Makana, News24 correspondent)

Two men found guilty of beheading a pregnant woman and trying to sell her body parts for muti have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Former teacher Edward Raatji and his friend Stanley Mohlake sat in silence in a packed Limpopo High Court, as Judge Matsaro Semenya read out their sentences for the murder of Nthabiseng Mojela.

Mojela was beheaded in July 2016 in Mapela village, near Mokopane.

Raatji, 54, and Mohlake, 34, were arrested for Mojela's murder, following a tip-off after they advertised to traditional leaders that they had a human head for sale.

Police set a trap for the two to meet them at the Polokwane taxi rank, where they were meant to hand over the head to two sangomas for an undisclosed amount. Police then arrested them.

"It is disheartening that Raatji travelled for more than 60km with his child while he had the head of [Mojela] in his vehicle. One can only imagine the trauma the child went through when the father was arrested," said Semenya.

No remorse

Referring to a social worker's evidence, the judge said the testimony indicated that the family was traumatised and still hurting.

"The death of the deceased was unnecessary. The pain caused to her family, as well as community at large, was immense."

During her judgment, Semenya commended the role played by two traditional healers who alerted the police.

"The two epitomise that, when members of the community work hand in hand with the police crime can be defeated," said Semenya.

Semenya said Raatji and Mohlake were not remorseful and maintained their innocence throughout the trial, despite overwhelming evidence against them.

Mojela's uncle, Patrice Mojela, welcomed the ruling, but expressed concern that the Raatji and Mohlake had indicated they were planning to appeal.

"We are happy with the verdict, but we are not happy that they want to appeal. They should not be released, because they don't deserve to stay in the community," he said.

NPA provincial spokesperson Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said they welcomed the sentences and hoped it would deter others from committing similar crimes.

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