The Ladysmith Regional Court sentenced Lungani Lloyd Hill (46), to an effective 25-year imprisonment for theft, and the murder of his girlfriend in Bergville, in November 2018. Hill, a taxi driver from Umlazi shared an acrimonious relationship with Thenjiwe Maphalala (39), who worked as a security guard at the Emmaus Hospital. On the day of the murder, Hill drove from Durban to Bergville, in search of her. After going to the hospital early morning and not finding Maphalala there, he proceeded in the direction of her home. Shortly after, Maphalala was found with deep stab wounds on her body. Her neighbour rushed her to the hospital where she was declared dead at around 6h00am.

While the state did not have any eyewitnesses to the crime, Acting Regional Court Prosecutor Sathsha Budram, led circumstantial evidence to prove Hill’s guilt to the court. Firstly, Maphalala had phoned her mother, telling her that Hill was in the area and that he had threatened to kill her. She told her mother that should she die, her mother must know that it was ‘Lungani’ who did it. The mother made a statement to this effect to the police, and this statement was used in court.

Budram called an expert witness to testify on the cellphone records of Hill, Maphalala, and her mother. The state was able to show that Maphalala’s cellphone had moved from Bergville to Umlazi (hence the charge of theft) on the day of the murder. Budram’s argument also relied on photographs of Hill’s motor vehicle that were taken at the Mooi River Plaza (en route) to Bergville on the morning that Maphalala was killed. The state further led the evidence of Maphalala’s co-worker, who testified that Hill had come to the hospital at 5h00am on the morning of the murder looking for her. The co-worker told the court that when Hill discovered that Maphalala was not there, he drove off in the direction of her home.

While the state had asked for life imprisonment for murder, the court sentenced Hill to 20 years imprisonment, citing his lack of previous convictions, his age, and the possibility of him being rehabilitated as reasons for the deviation. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment for theft. The court ordered that the sentences run consecutively, and an order was made declaring him unfit to possess a firearm.

The National Prosecuting Authority welcomes the successful finalisation of this matter, as it affirms our commitment to curbing the scourge of gender-based violence. We commend the hard work done by the Prosecution and SAPS in securing this conviction.

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