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By Ilse de Lange


Life behind bars for killer taxi driver

He was sentenced to a further 20 years’ imprisonment for attempting to murder the deceased’s mother and sister.

The nation is losing its battle against gender-based violence, according to a judge in the High Court in Pretoria before sentencing a North West taxi driver to life imprisonment for bludgeoning his former girlfriend to death with a hammer.

Sentencing James Maluleke, 37, for the November 2015 murder of his former girlfriend, Hellen Kgafela, 28, Acting Judge Jonas Mosopo said yesterday women and children needed to be protected against people who committed callous and barbaric crimes.

Maluleke, pictured, killed his girlfriend during government’s annual 16 Days of Activism Against Women and Children Abuse campaign.

He broke into Kgafela’s parental home in Legonyane village, near Brits, late at night and attacked her younger sister, Christinah, and mother, Violet, before pulverising her head with a heavy metal hammer.

The attack was so vicious that it shattered her skull and left a huge hole, exposing her brain. Kgafela’s young son, who was also in the house, woke up and saw his mother’s bloodied body on the kitchen floor. Kgafela’s mother was in a coma for more than a month after the attack.

Maluleke was sentenced to a further 20 years’ imprisonment for attempting to murder Kgafela’s mother and sister and contravening a protection order she had obtained against him.

He had visited the factory where Kgafela worked on the day before the murder, where he threatened and assaulted her. She had reported the incident to the police the morning before her death.

Maluleke, who is still maintaining his innocence, refused to testify in mitigation. Christinah Kgafela and her father, Gideon, testified the family was devastated.

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