WARNING: This story contains sensitive information that could upset sensitive readers
The family of two women and a young girl who were brutally killed in their Sobantu home outside Pietermaritzburg last month are calling for the harshest sentence to be handed down to their killer.
Njabulo Ndlovu pleaded guilty to three charges of murder and two of rape at the Pietermaritzburg High Court. He is accused of strangling to death 65-year-old Zanele Ndlela, her daughter Simangele Ndlela and raping and killing eight-year-old Zenande.
The emotional Ndlela family could not remain silent as the murder accused, Njabulo Ndlovu’s lawyer, read his plea statement in court. They hurled angry words at him and were asked to quieten down by the court.
Protesting outside court, angry Sobantu residents are calling for justice for the two women and young child. They carried placards with messages like “fight against gender-based violence” and “ladies should dress the way they like.”
“We are calling for justice, as community members we are traumatized. We are now in fear. We are happy that the law is taking its cause. He does not belong to society, he is a monster. He wiped the whole family. The court should not be lenient,” a community member explains.
“We don’t understand why he wants to be placed in isolation after killing the whole family. He is now concerned about his safety. How about the poor people that he killed,” says another community member.
Ndlovu’s plea statement detailed the events leading up to the triple murders. He says he had been drinking with the older victims in their house the night before. And that, after a few drinks he had slept with 46-year-old Simangele Ndlela and stayed over.
However, this angered her mother who discovered Ndlovu still in her house the following morning. This led to an argument where Zanele Ndlela fetched a kitchen knife. Ndlovu used this to stab her, her daughter, and her granddaughter who he raped twice.
Family member, Xolani Ndlela appealed to the court not to show any mercy in sentencing Ndela.
“This guy said he is a parent but he did something like this. He did not show any remorse or mercy. We are deeply hurt as a family, our hearts are bleeding. How he conducted himself in court today opened our wounds. What he did to our family I do not even wish it to my worst enemy. We want justice; we want him locked far away from us so we do not take law into our own hands. He does not deserve to live within our community,” says Xolani Ndlela.
Similarly, KwaZulu-Natal Social Development MEC, Nonhlanhla Khoza is calling for Ndela to get nothing less than a life sentence.
“He deserves a huge sentence which will inform even others it should make others who want to take similar way but just to tell them it is enough we cannot go this route. So we are pleased that we see he will be getting a very long sentence. In fact he deserves four long sentences because it’s four it might be five because there are a number of cases.
If you see that he raped several times the youngest victim in fact the perpetrator deserves life imprisonment and not one life imprisonment he should get life imprisonment out of all the cases we are expecting him to at least get five life imprisonment sentences,” says Khoza.
Break cycle of violence
While court proceedings were underway in Pietermaritzburg, hundreds of men came together in a men’s march in the Durban CBD to denounce violence against women and members of the LGBTQI+ community.
KwaZulu-Natal Men’s Forum chairperson, Bishop Bheki Mchunu urged them to get help to deal with stress, anger, and toxic situations, and to break the cycle of violence against women.
“The violence against women and children comes from losing a temper for men. What are the things that are making men lose their temper? When a man is not working it’s a challenge to his psychological aspect towards his actions. Because we have been told that we have to provide, we have to support, we have to make sure that we contribute,” says Mchunu.