NELSPRUIT: 13 February 2021 – The police management in Mpumalanga has welcomed a stiff sentence handed down by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court which was sitting at Breyten on Thursday, 11 February 2021 against 34-year-old Lucky Alfred Mhlanga. The accused murdered his 28-year-old girlfriend, with whom he fathered four children. The victim, Zinhle Happiness Nkabinde’s lifeless body was discovered on 15 February 2020, after she was reported as missing on 10 February 2020.

The court heard how Nkabinde was physically abused by Mhlanga repeatedly to a point where she sought for solace from authorities by applying for a protection order against the violent father of her children. Despite the efforts she took to protect herself, he (Mhlanga) continued to make her life miserable to the extreme that on 26 December 2019, he physically assaulted her at a farm in Piet Retief and she then reported the matter to the police who arrested him for violation of the protection order. Mhlanga then went before court but was granted bail. One could have expected Mhlanga to learn a lesson from this, but instead he did not change.

Nkabinde, who was employed as a domestic worker to fend for her children, did not report for work on the fateful day and her employer contacted her family to enquire of her whereabouts but, it turned out that her family too, did not know where she was. They then reported her as missing at the Piet Retief Police Station. The police as well as her family members and some concerned community members began a search party for her but with no success.

On 15 February 2020, the search continued and her body was then discovered in the bush at a certain farm near Mahamba area. The investigation fingered Mhlanga as the main suspect, hence police persuaded and arrested him on 26 February 2020. This time around, the court denied him bail to the day he appeared to account for his barbaric actions. A trial began and he attended his case in court whilst being remanded in custody.

On Wednesday, 10 February 2021, Mhlanga pleaded guilty on the charges levelled against him and the said High Court admitted his guilty plea on the murder case as well as for violating a protection order hence his sentencing as follows:

On count 01, violation of protection order, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment.

On the murder charge which is count 2, he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The accused was also found to be unfit to possess a firearm. Both sentences will run concurrently.

The police management in the province has applauded the sterling work done by the investigation team, the Prosecution as well as the Judiciary in ensuring that the likes of Mhlanga are meted with well-deserved sentences. Police also believe that this sentence should serve as a deterrent to perpetrators of Gender-Based-Violence who continue to cowardly prey on defenceless women.