A professed traditional healer from Mfume in the south coast, Sibonakaliso Mbili, will spend a lifetime in prison whilst his accomplices, Thuso Thelejane, Mlungisi Ndlovu and Mbali Magwala will serve their respective sentences handed down in the Durban High Court on Wednesday for their role in the beheading of a Chatsworth woman, Desiree Murugan, in August 2014. Falakhe Khumalo, a fifth accused, pleaded guilty to murder in September 2014 and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Regional spokesperson for Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) KZN, Natasha Kara, said the professed traditional healer from Mfume had at some point prior to the murder, requested Khumalo to procure the head of an Indian, White or Coloured female and offered to pay up to two million rand for it. “Khumalo then discussed this proposition with Thuso Thelejane and Mlungisi Ndlovu and they agreed to assist him. Mbali Magwala had also joined them and together they strategized on getting the human head,” said Kara.

She added, “They eventually decided that a prostitute would make an ideal victim and identified the deceased as their target. On 17 August 2014, Khumalo, Thelejane and Ndlovu armed themselves with a knife and bushknife before approaching the deceased to procure her services. She was lured to the Shallcross sports field and had sexual intercourse with Khumalo while accused 2 stood guard. Thelejane (who was hiding himself) then attacked the victim, stabbing her. She was stabbed about 195 times before being decapitated.”

“They then went to their friend’s home where Magwala washed the head of the deceased. Khumalo and one of his co-accused then delivered the head to Mbili who advised them to return a few days later for their payment. They were arrested soon after. Thelejane, Ndlovu and Magwala were minors at the time of the commission of this offence,” said Kara.

In aggravation of sentence, Senior State Advocate Sheryl Naidu led the testimony of the deceased’s sister. She described the deceased as a good and kind person who did not deserve to die in such a horrific and barbaric fashion.

The accused were sentenced accordingly: Thelejane and Ndlovu were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each, Magwala was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and Mbili was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment.

The Director of Public Prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Adv Moipone Noko said, “The sentence is indeed welcomed under the circumstances. Hopefully, the scourge of muthi killings in the province will be positively impacted by sentences of this nature. Congratulations to the Prosecutor on a job well done.”