Nosicelo Mtebeni murder: New twist as court hears love messages on cellphone were sent by accused

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Murder accused Alutha Pasile.
Murder accused Alutha Pasile.
Malibongwe Dayimani
  • Pre-sentencing arguments are being heard on Thursday in the trial of the man who killed Nosicelo Mtebeni.
  • Alutha Pasile killed his girlfriend in August in a jealous rage.
  • He packed her dismembered body parts into a suitcase and a black bag, and left it on the pavement.

Two messages - "I love you" and "I miss you" - seen by murder accused Alutha Pasile on the cellphone of his girlfriend, Nosicelo Mtebeni, sparked a jealous rage, which led to her brutal murder.

The East London High Court, however, on Thursday heard that the love messages, which made Pasile think she was cheating, had actually been old messages sent by him to Mtebeni.

In a shocking twist, social worker Nomonde Stamper made the revelation in a pre-sentence report, which was compiled to help the court determine a suitable sentence for Pasile, .

In her testimony, Stamper told the court she interviewed Pasile, Mtebeni's father, Kholisile, the landlord of the flat the couple shared, Phumeza Qwabe, Pasile's cousin, Kunta Kente Miti, and Pasile's aunt, Princess Dube. 

She said Pasile was shocked to realise the truth - that he had killed her for something she did not do. 

The 25-year-old Pasile was on Monday found guilty of murdering the final year University of Fort Hare law student. 

READ | 'I doubt I will ever recover from this' - Murdered law student's father breaks down in court

He was also found guilty of defeating the ends of justice by stuffing her torso and other body parts in a suitcase and a bag, which he later placed on a pavement in East London's Quigney suburb.

Pasile was arrested on 19 August after residents found the bags on the street. 

alutha pasile
Social worker Nomonde Stamper interviewed murder accused Alutha Pasile.

Mtebeni's head and hands were found in Pasile's possession inside room five of a 10-bedroom commune house the pair shared with other tenants. 

The murder was set off by allegations of cheating, levelled by Pasile against Mtebeni. 

Mtebeni, who studied at the University of Fort Hare's East London campus, had just arrived from her hometown, Matatiele, the day before the fatal confrontation. 

Angered

Stamper told Judge Nomathamsanqa Beshe on Thursday that Pasile said he later realised the messages, which had angered him and led him to kill Mtebeni, were actually sent by him in 2019. 

Stamper agreed with the State prosecutor, Nicki Turner, that Pasile acted on mere suspicion when he killed Mtebeni. 

She said:

Those two messages came from the offender. I asked him if he knew who the sender of those messages [I love you/ I miss you] was, and then he said he did not know. He said he was shocked to later realise that they came from him.

According to Stamper, Pasile said his suspicions about Mtebeni's unfaithfulness were further fuelled by the fact that he could not open her cellphone. 

ALSO READ | Traumatised tenants flee house of horror where Nosicelo Mtebeni was murdered

He had accused her of changing her cellphone password.

But Stamper told the court that Pasile said the password may not have been changed after all, but that "he was the one who made a mistake while attempting to open the cellphone".

Afterwards, following the incident, Pasile was able to open the phone unassisted.  

While Stamper told the court that Pasile seemingly loved Mtebeni, based on his facial expressions when she asked him about her, she accused him of being a controlling boyfriend. 

Nosicelo Mtebeni.
Nosicelo Mtebeni.

According to Stamper, Pasile loved action movies, which contain violence, war and snake attacks. She said in the moments leading up to the fatal confrontation over cheating, Pasile had been angered by Mtebeni's sudden lack of focus while the couple were watching a movie at home.

Stamper said Pasile told her that, while watching the movie, Mtebeni would be constantly browsing her cellphone, resulting in him having to pause the movie and rewind scenes she missed. 

She said this angered Pasile and fuelled his suspicions that Mtebeni was cheating.    

Stamper added that Pasile claimed he was being haunted in prison, on a daily basis, by a vision of Mtebeni dressed in a black dress and approaching him. From a distance, Mtebeni's head is intact in the vision, but as she walks closer to him, it starts falling off. 

READ | Nosicelo Mtebeni murder: Student leadership at University of Fort Hare calls for death penalty

Stamper said Pasile believed that, if Mtebeni's family could forgive him, the haunting visions might stop.

Turner interjected, saying: "He is a self-serving person, who only cares about his own interests."   

Stamper, who has 22 years' experience as a social worker, told the court that she was the author of a book and also worked for Media24 magazines Drum and the now defunct Move! Magazine as a columnist, giving social advice.

She obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree at the University of Fort Hare.

Mtebeni was buried on 4 September at her ancestral home of Matatiele in a funeral that was jointly organised by the University of Fort Hare and the Eastern Cape government. 

The pre-sentencing continues this afternoon.

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