The man convicted of killing University of Johannesburg student, Palesa Modiba, has been given an effective 31-year sentence by the High Court in Johannesburg. Dumisani Mkhwanazi was convicted of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, defeating the ends of justice and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Mkhwanazi was found guilty of killing the student in August 2013 and of burying her body in the backyard of his Soweto home. He had also robbed her of her cellphone.

Palesa Modiba’s family welcomes the guilty conviction of her murderer: 

He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During his testimony, Mkhwanazi maintained his innocence. However, he battled during cross-examination, often contradicting himself and selectively remembering events linked to Modiba’s death.

Judge Prince Manyathi handed down the sentence.

“In respect of count number one, that is murder, the accused is sentenced to 20 years direct imprisonment. In respect of count number two, theft of the cellphone, he will be sentenced to three years imprisonment. In respect to count number three, defeating the ends of justice, the accused will be sentenced to eight years imprisonment. In respect to count number four, possession of an unlicensed firearm, he will be sentenced to ten years imprisonment. In respect to count number five, possession of illegal ammunition, he will be sentenced to two years imprisonment. The court will order that the sentence imposed on count four and five will run concurrently with count number one.”

In December 2020, Modiba’s mother Khosi Kgalisitwe, called for a life sentence for Modiba.

Kgalisitwe said the conviction has given her a sense of closure.

“I feel happy that the court has found him guilty. I wished for the court to give him a life sentence. It hasn’t been easy for me as a mother. I’ve been having sleepless nights and I would be constantly sick. From now on I’m going to be alright.”