Gauteng woman sentenced to three life terms for killing son and two lovers

The Pretoria High Court sentenced Pamela Ncumisa Selani (47), from Olievenhoutbosch to three life terms for three counts of murder for killing her two lovers Micheal Changisa and Gift, from Malawi, and her son Avile Jonjwana.

She was given an additional 5 years imprisonment for defeating the administration of justice. In 2016, Selani and her then-partner Micheal Changisa argued after she discovered that he had infected her with a chronic disease. Weeks later after the argument, Selani asked her second boyfriend Gift who lived in the same area to help her kill her partner Changisa. One night, Gift went to the house Selani shared with Changisa and hid in the bathroom. After Changisa, fell asleep, Gift snuck out of the bathroom and repeatedly hit Changisa, with a hammer on his head in the presence of Selanis two minor children and left him in the bedroom where he died.

After the incident, Selani and Gift buried the deceased in her yard. After the two killed Changisa they started staying together in the house Selani shared with the deceased. In 2017 while staying together Selani, conspired with her son Avile (17), to kill Gift because he was abusing her. The two then poisoned Gift and drowned his head in water until he died. Afterwards, they buried his body in a shallow grave on top of the first deceased in her yard.

Avile who was also addicted to drugs started demanding money from his mother and threatened to report her to the police. One night, Avile chased his mother and his younger sibling out of the house, they then went to stay at her third boyfriend’s house in the same area. The following night they all returned to the house and hid in the yard. While doing so, Avile arrived home and went straight to bed, while sleeping Selani asked her minor son to sneak into the house and open the door. Thereafter, Selani grabbed a hammer and repeatedly hit Avile on the head until he died, and she buried him on top of two deceased persons in her yard.

On 4 August 2020, Selani took her 14-year-old son to a traditional healer because he was not well. During the consultation with the healer, the 14-year-old told the healer about the killings. The healer then called a community leader under the pretence that he was calling another healer for assistance. When the community leader arrived, the son narrated the story to the community leader who reported the matter to the police. On the same day, Selani and her son were arrested when they returned home after consultation. The charges against the son were later withdrawn and he became a state witness.

In court, Selani pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against and denied committing the offences. However, the state was able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. During the sentencing proceedings, through her legal representative, Selani asked the court not to impose the prescribed minimum sentence because she is a first-time offender and Chagisa infected her with a life-threatening disease where she will find herself having health complications for the rest of her life. Furthermore, she experienced abuse from the man in her life which pushed her into a corner and resulted in her acting in the manner that she did.

However, state prosecutor and advocate Eric Sihlangu, argued that Selani showed no remorse for her actions as she still maintained her innocence even after being convicted. He added that Selani is convicted of serious offences that are prevalent in the country. Therefore, Adv. Sihlangu asked the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence and should consider the outcry of society regarding Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

Furthermore, Sihlangu asked the court to impose a sentence that would send a message to the community and deter other citizens from committing similar offences.

When handing down the sentence, Judge Papi Masopa agreed with the state, that Selani showed no remorse. Furthermore, judge Masopa said he is of the view that Selani is an evil person who killed her two lovers and child. “It is by mercy that the 14-year-old was not killed”. Therefore, he said he found no substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from imposing the prescribed minimum sentences. He further said he hopes the sentence imposed will make Selani a better person who will respect people’s lives. The NPA welcomes the sentence, and wants to send a message that it can never be over-emphasized how important human life is therefore the NPA will be vigorous in our pursuit of these cases to serve as a deterrent to would-be murderers.

The Director of Public Prosecution Advocate Sibongile Mzinyani also wants to applaud the work of the prosecutor and investigating officer Sgt Abednego Boloi that led to the conviction and sentencing.

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