Cape Town – The Johannesburg High Court has sentenced 31-year-old Nomaswazi Rachel Tshabalala to life imprisonment for murdering her grandmother.
Tshabalala was sentenced to an additional 25 years imprisonment on 24 counts of fraud, theft of the deceased’s bank and South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) cards, obstructing and defeating the administration of justice as well as statutory perjury.
According to the provincial spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Phindi Mjonondwane, Tshabalala lived with her grandmother, Nomsa Hilda Tshabalala in Mndeni, Soweto.
Tshabalala pleaded guilty to the charges brought against her by the State.
She further admitted to the court that she was under the influence of drugs when she killed her grandmother after the pair had an altercation, and she was kicked out of the home on December 14, 2019.
In her plea explanation, the court heard Tshabalala reported her grandmother missing on December 19, 2019, at the Naledi police station.
She admitted to withdrawing funds with her grandmother’s Nedbank and Sassa cards from December 17, 2019, until September 3, 2020.
Police arrested Tshabalala on September 3, 2020, after they found she was using her grandmother’s cards, while she was reported missing.
She was remanded in custody and charged with fraud and theft.
However, she was soon to face more serious charges after a tenant discovered the remains of the grandmother in June 2021.
The court heard relatives of the grandmother and Tshabalala decided to rent out the house after she was arrested and remanded in custody.
The new tenant was cleaning the yard when he discovered the woman’s remains underneath a steel cabinet in the backyard. Police conducted a DNA analysis of the remains found and it matched that of the missing person.
Further investigations led the investigating officer to Johannesburg Prison where Tshabalala was detained and awaiting trial.
During aggravation of sentencing arguments, senior state advocate Tshimangadzo Xakaza argued that the murder was premeditated and within the ambit of the Older Persons Act, and called on the court to find that murdering the elderly woman warranted the imposition of life imprisonment.
Advocate Xakaza further submitted that Tshabalala had doused her grandmother with petrol in an attempt to conceal the crime she had committed.
"The accused had an opportunity to reconsider her decision after hitting her with the calabash on her head, leaving her unconscious but alive, but proceeded to strangle her with her bare hands”, the state advocate said.
The NPA welcomed the sentence.
“The NPA will continue to advocate against the senseless killing of the elderly and ensure that such perpetrators face the full might of the law,” Mjonondwane said.