A 37-year-old North West taxi driver, who pulverised his former girlfriend’s head with a hammer, was convicted of murder yesterday.
In the High Court in Pretoria, acting Judge Jonas Mosopo found James Maluleke guilty of the murder of his former girlfriend, Hellen Kgafela, at her house in Legonyane, near Brits, in November 2015 and of attempting to murder her sister, Christinah and mother, Violet.
Maluleke was also convicted of contravening a protection order his girlfriend had obtained against him five months before her death.
The court heard evidence that Maluleke had visited the factory where his ex-girlfriend worked the day before her murder, where he threatened and assaulted her.
She had reported it to the police the morning before her death. Maluleke, who insisted he had nothing to do with the attack, showed no emotion throughout the trial.
Judge Mosopo accepted Christinah’s evidence that it was Maluleke who had attacked them in their family home that night.
She had seen him aggressively pushing her sister against a fridge in the kitchen, but did not witness the actual attack.
Christinah still has a long scar on her forehead where she was struck with a hammer. Her mother, who was also hit on the head, was in a coma for over a month.
An autopsy report described the viciousness of the attack in which the left side of Hellen’s face was bashed in, causing numerous fractures and a gaping wound exposing her brain.
The judge rejected Maluleke’s evidence that he was not near the Kgafela home that night and had an alibi.
He said it was clear Maluleke had formed the intention to murder his girlfriend by arming himself with a hammer, that he had attacked her sister and mother and finally bludgeoned her to death.