South African News

30 years in prison for woman who killed cop boyfriend after rough tlof tlof

The High Court in Mpumalanga sentenced 30-year-old Zanele Mkhonto to 20 years imprisonment for the gory murder of her boyfriend, a police officer, Sergeant Mandlenkosi Happy Thwala, 47.

Thwala was stationed at KaBokweni police station at the time of his demise.

Mpumalanga National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Monica Nyuswa said Mkhonto pleaded guilty in November 2023, and was subsequently convicted of murdering the police officer.

“She told the court that she was in a romantic relationship with the deceased (Thwala) and they were residing together from January to July 2022, at Gedlembane, in Pienaar. After realising that their relationship was volatile she left to her parental home,” said Nyuswa.

On August 2, 2022, the NPA said Mkhonto visited Thwala in Gedlembane. During that visit, an altercation between the two ensued.

After the altercation, the police sergeant fell asleep and that is when Mkhonto took his service pistol and fatally shot him several times while he was in bed.

“She then left the scene, taking the deceased’s firearm and vehicle. On her way to her homestead in Masoyi, she came across a road block in Zwelisha, near KaBokweni, and she threw away the deceased’s firearm which was found by members of the public the following morning,” said Nyuswa.

Upon arrival at her home, Mkhonto then informed her friend about the crime she had committed, and the police were alerted.

She was subsequently arrested and the State successfully opposed her release on bail.

During trial, in aggravation of sentence, State advocate Zwelethu Mata told the court that Mkhonto did not show “any remorse” for her actions.

Instead, the court heard that Mkhonto attempted to trivialise her actions by using untested narratives in her pre-sentencing reports.

“Advocate Mata objected to these reports and further highlighted that this kind of offence amounts to domestic violence and the society awaits with bated breath to see whether the court will treat female accused with soft hands, as opposed to male accused in cases of domestic violence,” Nyuswa narrated.

The court also received victim impact statements facilitated by court preparation officer, Nomfundo Mokoena.

The documents detailed how the loss of Thwala had affected his entire family.

Thwala’s family lamented that he was the only person in the family who had “a decent job” and he financially supported his siblings, and the entire family.

Acting Judge Sheila Msibi remarked that the killing of a police officer is a loss to the State and society at large.

In the end, the acting judge sentenced Mkhonto to 20 years direct imprisonment, and the convicted murderer was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.

Commenting on the court outcome, the National Prosecuting Authority in Mpumalanga appealed to community members to seek help whenever they are faced domestic challenges.

“This case highlights that the criminal justice sysytem works for all citizens despite their gender,” said Nyuswa.

In August 2022, IOL reported that the then 29-year-old Mkhonto had been arrested in connection with the murder of her boyfriend, Thwala.


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