Three ritual murderers sentenced to life imprisonment.

Three men from the Stanmore area of Gwanda who murdered three women and a seven-month-old baby before mutilating their bodies for ritual purposes were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment. Mncedisi Ndlovu, 20, represented by Tanaka Muganyi, Bhekimpilo Mthethwa, 42, represented by Nathan Mashayamombe and Nhlanhla Sibanda, 24, represented by Ndabezinhle Mazibuko, had pleaded not guilty to four counts of murder when they appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Martin Makonese.

The judge, however, found overwhelming evidence against the trio and convicted them of murder with actual intent.

Ndlovu, Mthethwa and Sibanda had argued through their lawyers that they were wrongly implicated and forced to make indications at the murder scenes after they were tortured by police.

But in his judgment, Justice Makonese rejected their defence, saying their testimonies lacked credibility. He, however, exonerated Sibanda from the first three counts due to lack of evidence.
Three men from the Stanmore area of Gwanda who murdered three women and a seven-month-old baby before mutilating their bodies for ritual purposes were yesterday sentenced to life imprisonment.
Justice Makonese concluded that there was enough evidence linking Ndlovu and Mthethwa to all four counts.

“The state premising on circumstantial evidence has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt that the three men are linked to the heinous ritual murders. It is the court’s view that indeed there was evidence that the trio would waylay the victims at a bus stop near Stanmore Business Centre before killing them,” said the judge.

In passing sentence, Justice Makonese said he could not hand down the maximum penalty – the death sentence – because its legality was still under scrutiny at the Constitutional Court.

“I’ve not imposed death partly because two of the accused persons were aged 18 at the time of committing the crime. The other reason is that the issue is yet to be concluded at the highest court of the land,” said Justice Makonese.

He said the three men deserved to rot in jail as they showed total disregard for human life.

“These killings were carefully planned, which clearly shows that the trio had total disregard for human life. They sat down and planned to kill innocent and vulnerable victims in such a brutal manner for ritual purposes. Their moral blameworthiness is very high and the justice of the case will be met with a life imprisonment,” ruled Justice Makonese.

Ndlovu and Mthethwa were sentenced to four life terms while Sibanda was slapped with one. Ndlovu was sentenced to 11 years in jail while Mthethwa got 13 years in 2011 for attempted murder and their sentences will run concurrently.

Prosecuting, Whisper Mabhaudhi said what was aggravating was that the three men pounced on the defenceless women and a baby they were supposed to protect. He submitted that the trio was a danger to society and did not deserve a second chance.

The court heard that between November 18 and December 8, 2010, the three killed three women and a seven-month-old baby girl in Stanmore and mutilated their bodies.

“On November 18, 2010, the three attacked and killed Meglina Mahlangu who was coming from Bulawayo going to her home in Stanmore. They cut off her breasts and private parts before concealing the body and taking away the deceased’s belongings,” said Mabhaudhi.

The court heard that Mahlangu’s family later filed a missing person report with the police.

Human bones were later discovered scattered around some rocks and a report was made to the police.

A black bra and a small plastic bottle with some jelly belonging to Mahlangu were recovered from Sibanda, one of the three murderers.

On December 1 of the same year, the murderers pounced on Nothando Siziba, who had arrived in Stanmore from Bulawayo with her seven-month-old baby.

Siziba’s relatives looked for her in vain until her mother got information that a human body had been discovered in a shallow grave. She went to the scene where she positively identified the body of her daughter. The baby’s remains were also found at the scene. The court heard that a week later the three men allegedly murdered Moyo who had arrived in the area from Colleen Bawn.

Acting on information received from members of the public, police managed to trace and arrest the three killers.

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