Murderer bawls after sentencing

Riot Hlatshwayo

Riot Hlatshwayo

Sboniso Welcome "Bodloza" Mbatha, 23, cried like a baby yesterday when he was sentenced to two life-terms for the double murder of an elderly couple. He was also sentenced to five years for arson.

Mbatha, from Magudu, in Mpumalanga, appeared in the Middelburg circuit court of the Pretoria high court charged with murdering Piet Masilela and Merriam Mafelekiso Ngomane, both 70, and setting their house alight.

Mbatha broke into the couple's house and stole their pension money in December 2003.

"As soon as Mbatha became aware that the couple had laid charges against him for stealing their pension money, he became scared that we might sniff him out so he shot the husband and wife while they were sleeping before setting their house on fire. They were burnt beyond recognition," said Tonga police spokesman Constable Mzwandile Nyambi.

Nyambi said detectives later established that it was Mbatha who had killed the couple and had forcefully taken their bank card, which he used to withdraw R560 from an ATM in Schoemansdal.

Mbatha pleaded not guilty to all charges. He still has to appear in connection with stealing the couple's money from their house and from the ATM.

"We welcome the sentence. It will send a message to others to think twice before committing such an offence," said Nyambi.