Time for murdered Yolanda Dlepu's family to mourn as killer is jailed

Ntokozo Hadebe pleaded guilty to strangling his girlfriend last year./ SUPPLIED
Ntokozo Hadebe pleaded guilty to strangling his girlfriend last year./ SUPPLIED

The family of Yolanda Dlepu, who was killed by her lover last year, will only start grieving now after her killer was sentenced to 22 years in jail yesterday.

Ntokozo Hadebe had pleaded guilty in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to murdering Dlepu .

Dlepu's sister Zimasa said the family has accepted the sentence although it would never bring her back. "This thing has been hanging over our heads for too long and we can finally move on, knowing we got justice for her," Zimasa said.

"I have been having sleepless nights, hoping that her killer would get convicted. I have had my fair share of depression and anxiety like other family members because we had no peace knowing she was brutally taken away from us at a young age. We can go home now and mourn her fully," said Zimasa

Wearing a grey top and jeans, Hadebe looked nervous with his head down throughout the proceedings.

Judge Charl van Niekerk said he accepted the guilt plea that was made by Hadebe. However, he said he had to give a just sentence. "Therefore, you are charged with murder and 22 years of imprisonment is a suitable sentence that will serve as your rehabilitation time," said Van Niekerk.

He said Dlepu died a painful death in the hands of Hadebe, who was supposed to protect her. The incident happened in Zola, Soweto, on April 7.

He also read out to the court that the two had been in a violent relationship that resulted in Dlepu's death.

"The accused said he was staying with the deceased (Dlepu) and after an argument, she moved out and went to Eastern Cape but after convincing her, she came back and visited him.

"The accused also admitted to beating the deceased with a broom and later pinned her against the wall and strangled her to death," the judge said.

Van Niekerk added that Hadebe then locked the lifeless body in his room after realising he had killed her and fled to KwaZulu-Natal.

"He then called his mother and directed her to where he had hidden the key to his outside room for her to go see what he had done."

Hadebe turned himself in two days later.

"The [postmortem] report further revealed that the woman died on the scene from strangulation."

Kgothatso Moloto, from anti gender-based violence organisation Voice it in Action, said: "The 22-year sentence might seem just for the department of justice, but it is little for humankind. However, we welcome it and hope that all the perpetrators may just plead guilty like Hadebe did and accept their actions to save state recourses, time and emotional burden for the families to attend court cases for years."

Dlepu's childhood friend Nokuthula Kumalo said: "He didn't just take a friend from me but he took a sister."

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