Police management welcomes hefty sentences meted against two after murder of municipal official

NELSPRUIT - Police management in Mpumalanga has welcomed hefty sentences handed down by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court sitting in Breyten against Themba Solomon Mhlongo, aged 27 and Fanyana June Mthembu, aged 33. The two were sentenced today, Thursday 01 April 2021, after they were convicted for the murder of 37-year-old Sithelwesihle Mathenjwa in Standerton on 17 November 2017.

Details of how Mathenjwa was killed were heard in court where it was uncovered that on the sad day, Mathenjwa who was employed as a Community Project Manager at the Lekwa Municipality in Standerton, was kidnapped by his assailants where they robbed him of his personal belongings, including his blue Nissan Tiida and a laptop. He was then murdered and his body buried in a shallow grave at a certain farm in Standerton.

Meanwhile in the process, Mathenjwa's family became worried when they could not get hold of him for a while. On 20 November 2017, they then informed police about his disappearance. Police then opened a missing person's file and immediately sanctioned a search party for him but without any success.

On 25 November 2017, they made a breakthrough when they spotted Mathenjwa's motor vehicle in Standerton driven by the two men. The duo were then arrested after failing to explain why they were driving Mathenjwa's car.

Nevertheless, the astute members continued with their probe until the men finally came clean and told police what transpired. They confessed to police that they murdered Mathenjwa and concealed their actions by burying his body. The suspects also pointed out to the exact spot where they buried him. A murder case was then opened with additional charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances as well as possession of suspected stolen property. The team of investigators also managed to confiscate Mathenjwa's laptop as it was found in the suspects' possession during the tour of their investigation.

The men were charged accordingly and indicated that there were two other men who assisted them in kidnapping Mathenjwa however the court acquitted them due to lack of evidence to prosecute, meanwhile Mhlongo and Mthembu were sentenced as follows:

- Mthembu was only sentenced to five years imprisonment for possession of stolen property.

- Mhlongo received a life sentence for murder.

- He was further sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances and three years for kidnapping. The court directed that all his sentences run concurrently with the life sentence.

He (Mhlongo) was also found to be unfit to possess a firearm.

Police management in the province has commended the exceptional work done by the investigating team, the Prosecution as well as the Judiciary in ensuring that the offenders get a punishment that is befitting. The sentences should serve as a deterrence to others who might want to emulate such heinous acts.

Source: South African Police Service