The South African Police Service (SAPS) in Mpumalanga recently welcomed the life imprisonment term handed down to a man convicted of killing his former girlfriend, the mother of his four children, about a year ago.
The spokesperson of the Mpumalanga SAPS, Brigadier Leonard Hlathi said Lucky Alfred Mhlanga, 34, was sentenced in the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court, sitting in Breyten, on Thursday for murdering his 28-year-old ex-girlfriend with whom he had fathered four children.
“The victim, Zinhle Happiness Nkabinde’s lifeless body was discovered on 15 February 2020 after she was reported missing on 10 February 2020. The court heard how Nkabinde was physically abused by Mhlanga repeatedly to a point where she sought solace from authorities by applying for a protection order against the violent father of her children,” Hlathi said in a statement.
Hlathi said despite the efforts Nkabinde had made to protect herself, Mhlanga “continued to make her life miserable to the extreme that on the 26th of December 2019, he physically assaulted her at a farm in Piet Retief. He said Nkabinde then reported the matter to the police who arrested Mhlanga for violation of the protection order, Mhlanga then appeared in court, but was granted bail.
“One could have expected Mhlanga to learn a lesson from this, but instead he did not change. Nkabinde, who was employed as a domestic worker to fend for her children, did not report for work on the fateful day and her employer contacted her family to enquire about her whereabouts, but it turned out that her family too did not know where she was,” Hlathi said.
Hlathi said Nkabinde was then reported missing at the Piet Retief police station. He said the police, as well as her family members and some concerned community members, began a search for her, but with no success. On the 15th of February 2020, her body was discovered in the bush at a farm in the Mahamba area. The investigation fingered Mhlanga as the main suspect and police arrested him on the 26th of February, 2020.
“This time around, the court denied him bail to the day he appeared to account for his barbaric actions. A trial began and he attended his case in court while being remanded in custody. On Wednesday, February 10, 2021, Mhlanga pleaded guilty on the charges against him and the high court accepted his guilty plea on the murder charge and for violating a protection order,” said Hlathi.
Hlathi said Mhlanga was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and five years’ imprisonment for violating the protection order. The sentences will be running concurrently.
“The police management in the province has applauded the sterling work done by the investigation team, the prosecution, as well as the judiciary in ensuring that the likes of Mhlanga are meted with well-deserved sentences. Police also believe that this sentence should serve as a deterrent to perpetrators of gender-based violence, who continue to cowardly prey on defenceless women,” said Hlathi.