The Pretoria High Court sentenced John Malope Ntshabeleng (49), from Rietfontein to one life term for the premeditated murder of his partner Nkweleng Martha Zambo, and 5 years direct imprisonment for housebreaking with intent to kill. The Judge ordered that the sentences should run concurrently with that of life and that he be declared unfit to possess a firearm. In the early hours of 07 August 2022, the two argued while they were drinking at a friend’s house in Rietfontein because the deceased had refused to go back home to Ntshabeleng.

During the argument, Ntshabeleng walked out leaving the deceased and the friend in the house. Moments later, he came back to the house and started to knock on the locked door, and was told by the deceased to go home and sleep. He then broke into the house through the window while holding a knife in his hand, he approached the deceased and stabbed her to death. Ntshabeleng was then apprehended by the community members who responded to the friend’s husband’s cry for help. The police were called and Ntshabeleng was arrested on the scene.

In court, Ntshabeleng pleaded not guilty to the charges and asked the court to deviate from imposing the prescribed minimum sentence because he was a first-time offender and that the level of intoxication impaired his judgment when committing the offence. However, the state prosecutor, Advocate Vusumzi Tshabalala, told the court that Ntshabeleng was not remorseful for his actions as he did not make any attempt to apologise to the deceased family. Nor was he concerned about the minor children of the deceased. Tshabalala also handed in Victim Impact Statements (VIS), compiled by the court preparation officer, Lebohang Lebese, where the deceased minor girl child, her sister and niece expressed how the death of the deceased has traumatised them and has caused financial strain because the deceased was the main breadwinner at home.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Portia Phahlane, said alcohol did not play a role when committing the offence rather, the deceased lost her life in the hands of a partner who claimed to love her. She added that Ntshabeleng attacked a defenceless woman by stabbing her and leaving her for dead. Furthermore, the Judge said, the death of the deceased has left a very bad scar on the children and family of the deceased as it has caused trauma. Therefore, she found that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence and the only appropriate sentence for Ntshabeleng is that of life imprisonment.

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