April 13, 2021

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UJ Murder: Justice for Palesa Madiba as accused is sentenced to 31 years behind bars

2 min read

The National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA) on Friday confirmed that Dumisani Ronald Mkhwanazi – the man responsible for killing Palesa Madiba in August 2013 – was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Madiba was murdered in Phiri, Soweto in 2013 while visiting her friend Matshidiso Mkhwanazi for a sleepover, the accused’s niece. Her remains were discovered in a shallow grave at Tshidi’s home two years later.

Alarm was raised after a neighbour saw an arm protruding from the soil. At the time, Mkhwanazi was charged with murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and defeating the ends of justice.

Palesa Madiba: Justice at last

Dumisani Mkhwanazi’s sentence

The High Court of South Africa in Gauteng sentenced Mkhwanazi to 20 years for the murder, three years for theft, eight years for defeating the ends of justice, 10 years for possessions of an unlicensed firearm and two years for unlawful possession of ammunition.

Mkhwanazi was sentenced to 43 years behind bars in total, however, the terms will run concurrently, which results in an “effective 31 years imprisonment”.

Speaking about gender-based violence in South Africa, Senior State Advocate, Faghre Mohammed, described it as a “threat to our nascent democracy”, and he looks to the courts to “exterminate it at its roots”.

Circumstantial evidence

Due to the lack of direct evidence or eyewitness reports, Advocate Mohammed “relied on circumstantial evidence to prove Mkhwanazi’s guilt as there was no direct evidence from anyone” who witnessed the murder.

This includes the evidence provided by Mkhwanazi’s niece, Tshidi, who told the court that the accused was the last person seen with Madiba. She also told the family that she didn’t know of Madiba’s whereabouts.

Another witness, Zwalakhe, noticed a heap of soil and uneven paving tiles at Mkhwanazi’s home. The UJ student’s remains were later found in a shallow grave at the accused’s backyard.

“I, therefore, request this court to consider aggravating factors such as lack of remorse, concealment of evidence as well as the gruesome actions of the accused as reason enough to impose a sentence in excess of the minimum prescribed sentence of 15 years for murder”.

Also read: Palesa Madiba’s friend details her last moments