MORE than three years after a Khayelitsha man was decapitated and his body buried in a shallow grave in an open field, the Cape High Court sentenced the killer to 28 years imprisonmen.
The killer, 34-year-old Lungisa Mlotywa, is not a first time offender when it comes to violence, as he was found guilty of robbery with aggravating circumstances by the Khayelitsha Regional Court in November 2008.
He fatally stabbed Thembalethu Mandamane in the neck in March 2008, and proceeded to cut his head off.
He then buried the body in an open field in Khayelitsha and kept his head in a water filled hole in the floor of his shack.
The 28 year sentence handed down on Wednesday for the killing would run concurrently with the 10-year sentence for robbery he is currently serving, said Judge Owen Rogers, and can apply for parole after 20 years.
The deceased’s family have welcomed the sentencing but said the case dragged on for too long.
Mlotywa had pleaded not guilty to murdering Mandamane. He had told the court how he was friends with Mandamane in 1986 and ’87, claiming Mandamane died thereafter.
He said he had attended Mandamane’s funeral in the Eastern Cape, and then encountered him by chance, alive and well, in 2008.
Mlotywa said Mandamane had attacked him with a knife and he had fought back and overcome Mandamane. He then stabbed him in the neck and proceeded to cut his head off.
Mlotywa told the court he believed Mandamane was a ghost.
Through his lawyer Daniel Theunissen he also told the court he was rich, owned businesses and that former President Thabo Mbeki had deposited millions into his bank account.
But a psychologist who examined Mlotywa declared him fit to stand trial.
Before sentencing on Wednesday, Mlotywa was found guilty of murder on Tuesday.
Mlotywa refused to take the stand to argue for mitigation of sentence.
This prompted state prosecutor Advocate Manyenya Sebelebele to say “the fact that he (Mlotywa) did not take the stand and tell the court his version, clearly states he is not remorseful.”
Outside court, Mlotywa’s lawyer Daniel Theunissen said he needed to consult with his client over whether he wanted to apply for leave to appeal.
In handing down his judgement, Judge Rogers said despite the psychological assessment, it was “possible that even if the accused is not mentally ill, he has a personal disorder”.
“The manner in which the deceased was killed is bizarre and brutal. Although we may not know if the deceased was still alive when his head was chopped off, still this all the same is a crime. It is shocking that a person can be killed in such a manner,” said Rogers.
Apart from killing Mandamane, Rogers said Mlotywa took away a partner and deprived a child of a father. — Sandiso Phaliso