The High Court of South Africa, Eastern Cape Division, sitting in Bhisho, sentenced five persons convicted of the double murder of a wife and mother-in-law, to effective life imprisonment terms.
Retired police Nomvula Zondwa (57), traditional healer (Sangoma) Thamsanqa Hlamandana (32) and hitmen Lwando Lengesi (32), Ayabulela Mahokoto (27), and Nkosinathi Junior George (24) were all sentenced for their respective roles in the murder of Cingiswa Mila, and her mother-in-law and wife of retired Eastern Cape Provincial Police Commissioner, Boniswa Toba.
The three hitmen, Lengesi, Mahoko and George were sentenced to additional 22 years terms, but the court ordered them to run concurrently with the life imprisonment term.
Evidence presented in court is that Zondwa, who initiated the contract killing, was in a long-term romantic relationship with Mandla Toba. He had married Cingiswa Mila, while still in a relationship with her. She conspired with the Sangoma to organise hitmen to kill the newly wedded wife and they all discussed the murder over a period and agreed to participate in it.
On 11 April 2020, the three hitmen travelled to the Toba family homestead in the rural Celetyuma Village, in the district of Peddie, where the deceased stayed. One of them remained in the motor vehicle while the two approached the homestead and gained access under false pretences. They subdued the two deceased women, tied them up and stabbed them repeatedly, after which they fled the scene with certain low-value items, leaving a safe containing a firearm and a substantial amount of money untouched.
The court found that the killers acted on a frolic of their own when they killed the elderly deceased, Ms. Toba, as that was not part of the initial plan, but they did it as she would have been able to identify them. However, they demanded and received additional money for the her killing.
On 13 April 2020, Zondwa deposited an amount of R73000 into the bank account of Hlamandana, and he distributed the money to the bank accounts of the hitmen on the following day. Police investigation led to the arrest of all five persons, and the court agreed with the submissions of State Adv. Louis Sinclair, that all of them played an equal role in the death of the deceased and that their actions are equally reprehensible. The crime could and would not have been committed if each one of them did not play his or her role.
Quoting from previous case law, the court re-affirmed that: “Contract killing has always been regarded as a severely aggravating circumstance and an abomination”.
Welcoming the sentence, Eastern Cape Director of Public Prosecutions, Barry Madolo, applauded the Provincial Organised Crime members for their hard work and dedicated the sentence to one of their own, Detective Sergeant Dastile, who was ironically also killed in a contract killing during the hearing of the trial, shortly after testifying in this case.
NPA Regional Spokesperson
Eastern Cape Division