• First on the roll was judgement for the murder of Masego Mahlobane (28). Masego was killed by her fiancé, Hezekiel Motsumi Thipe, in June 2016.
Judge Brian Mashile found Thipe guilty on charges of murder and defeating the administration of justice.
Mahlobane died of asphyxiation before her body was dumped about 200km from Middelburg on the Vlakpoort road where it was set alight.
Mahlobane’s vehicle tracking system gave valuable information that placed her car at the scene where her body was found, for three minutes. The vehicle was then driven back to Middelburg where it was found abandoned in the central business district days later.
Judge Mashile said the absence of any record of domestic violence, apart for the testimony of Mahlobane’s mother, who said that her daughter told her over the phone that Thipe would kill her one day, does not justify finding the accused guilty of premeditated murder.
Also read: Sue Howarth murder trial postponed
The matter was postponed until December for the handing in of pre-sentencing reports. Thipe’s bail was revoked and he will remain in custody.
• Second on the roll was sentencing for Sibusiso Mbowane, who pleaded guilty for murdering his girlfriend in Standerton. Mbowane told the court that he returned from drinking at a tavern when he caught his girlfriend with another man. The man fled and Mbowane proceeded to beat Thandi Dhludhlu to death with a hammer.
Judge Mashile sentenced Mbowane to 15 years imprisonment, stating that there was no evidence of premeditation that would have justified a harsher sentence.
Dhludhlu’s distraught family told www.mobserver.co.za that they felt that 15 years was too little to be considered justice.
She was 28 when she was killed and left behind four children, with the youngest aged six.
• The third case was that of the Marchlands farm attack wherein Sue Howarth was murdered in February 2017. She, together with her husband, Robert Lynn, were overpowered whilst sleeping in their home.
Nkosinathi and William Yika, as well as Lucas Makua, are the accused.
Lynn testified on a previous occasion about how shots were fired through their bedroom window, unknown to him at the time, hitting and injuring his wife.
A severely injured Howarth was gagged, dragged to her own vehicle, thrown into the loading bin before being dumped in a ditch at the side of the R33 (Belfast/Stoffberg road). She later died in the Life Midmed Hospital.
Also read: Five arrested for Dullstroom murder
This is Lynn’s second trip to South Africa to attend the trial, after the ordeal he moved back to Ireland. The matter was supposed to be heard in court for two weeks, but has only had a couple of hours before judge Lineo Liphoto. It was postponed after a Sepedi interpreter was not present.
The original docket was destroyed in a fire after the Dullstroom Police Station was set alight. The docket had to be reconstructed. It was testified that two confessions made by some of the accused, as well as statements obtained from the Yika brothers’ girlfriends, could not be reconstructed.
Legal defense for the accused claims that the evidence in question was unconstitutionally obtained.
There were also pieces of forensic evidence that was destroyed in the fire.