Judge calls SA “femicide capital of the world” as he puts Eskom killer in jail for life

Everson Luhanga

Muti, love, lies, and death. 

The court heard it all in the explosive murder trial of Thembinkosi Emmanuel Mhlongo, an Eskom senior employee.

On Friday the Johannesburg High Court sentenced Thembinkosi to life imprisonment after being found guilty of murdering his girlfriend Zinhle Kweza. 

“This was undoubtedly one of the most brutal and vicious deeds perpetrated…. on a helpless and defenseless woman,” Judge Makume said. “The deceased was your lover and mother of your child”.

Thembinkosi’s punchy advocate Syndwell Sikhwari tried to argue for a lesser sentence.

The judge would have none of it, and sent a message about the wave of Gender Based Violence President Cyril Ramaphosa has called “a pandemic”.

“The killing of women by their partners has clearly become an epidemic and an enormous social problem,” the judge said. “We have become the femicide capital of the world”.

·       The judgment comes nearly four years after Zinhle Kweza was brutally murdered in Ivory Park near Midrand where she was staying with her friend Patricia Mgijima, a police officer.

·       Zinhle was killed on the night of 30 March 2017 on the backseat of Thembinkosi’s black Audi A3 car. Her body was found with multiple stab wounds the next day. 

·       Thembinkosi was found guilty of her murder on 26 June, when we published the video of the case above.

The 40-year-old accused, who had six children from six different women, was an executive adviser for Eskom at their head office in Sunninghill. Every time Thembinkosi came to court, he dressed in smart tailor-made suits and shiny polished shoes.

A highly intelligent man with two Master’s degrees and a high paying job, Thembinkosi never showed any guilt. “The accused maintained his innocence right through the trial…,” the judge said. 

Judge Makume referred to the shocking evidence from Thembinkosi’s sangoma, who told the court Thembinkosi confessed to the murder plan before he did it. “This court heard evidence from Mndeni Ncamphalala, the accused’s own personal traditional healer to the effect that from as far back as 2015/2016 the accused had sourced his view and assistance to enable him to kill Zinhle.”

Zinhle’s family says they are relieved to see justice being served. Nomawethu Kweza, Zinhle’s aunt (pictured below) who raised her since she was three years old, thanked the investigating team Sergeant Ngwako Mogale and Sergeant Nelson Dibete, as well as prosecution state advocate Adele de Klerk – for putting up a water-tight case that resulted in the conviction of the murderer.