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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor


Man gets life for murder of ‘successful’ aunt who was ‘bewitching family members’

One of the convicted was just 18 at the time of the murder.


A 37-year-old man has been sentenced to life in prison after he organised a hit on his aunt, who he claimed was practising witchcraft and bewitching family members.

Siyabonga Shelembe was found guilty of murder by the Pietermaritzburg High Court this week.

It was found that he had enlisted Thandolwethu Sibisi to help him kill 53-year-old Tholakele Cynthia Shelembe, whom he claimed was successful because she practised witchcraft.

READ MORE: Woman, 21, and two friends convicted in family murder plot

Sibisi enlisted two others, Sphelele Cele and Thobani Mkhize, to pull off the murder. Cele was only 18 years old at the time.

Shelembe told the men to take both of her cars as payment.

“Later that day, Sibisi, Cele and Mkhize went to Tholakele’s homestead. There they hit her with a knobkerrie given to them by Shelembe, and Mkhize strangled her to death. They then reported to Shelembe that she was dead; and drove her two motor vehicles back to Umlazi.

“One of the vehicles was burned and the other was sold. The men shared the proceeds of the sale amongst themselves,”  NPA KZN spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara explained.

A ‘pillar’ who supported family members

Shelembe was arrested the following day after someone spotted him when the men were taking his aunt’s cars. The others were nabbed later.

Confession statements were taken and used as evidence in the trial, as was a statement by the aunt’s daughter who described her as a pillar of strength and said she had supported many family members who were now struggling to cope.

READ MORE: Another North West woman accused of orchestrating murders for R320,000 payout

Mkhize was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment, while Sibisi and Cele were sentenced to 25 years and 18 years imprisonment, respectively.

The last two were given lesser sentences as the court ruled they were young when they committed the murder.

All four men were also charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances and sentenced to between 15 and 10 years each.

Their application for leave to appeal was dismissed.