The High Court of South Africa: Western Cape Division sentenced pastor Melisizwe Monqo, his wife Siphosihle Pamba and hitman,cousin Phumlani Qhusheka to long term imprisonment following their conviction on charges of kidnapping, robbery with aggravating circumstances and murder of Hlompo Koloi.
The 32-year-old pastor at God’s Work International Ministries was sentenced to life and 252 years and three months imprisonment. His 26-year-old wife was sentenced to an effective 20 years imprisonment. Qhusheka (31) was sentenced to life and 63 years. All the accused were declared unfit to own a firearm.
Monqo was convicted on 26 charges for Koloi’s murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, housebreaking with intent to commit murder, illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of ammunition and 13 counts of fraud.
Pamba was convicted on 24 counts which are similar to those of her husband.
Handing down judgement, Judge Saldanha said he is deviating from the prescribed minimum sentences for Pamba as she was also a victim who was abused by her husband and forced to participate in the crimes. Judge Saldanha also remarked that Pamba showed remorse, apologised to God, to the family of Koloi and society. She asked for forgiveness from the deceased family and told the court that she deserved to die for the crimes she committed. She also did not participate in the gruesome murder of Koloi.
Qhusheka was convicted on fewer charges including the murder of Koloi. The hitman and Monqo never showed remorse. Koloi’s cellphone was found in his possession and her DNA was found in his bloodied clothes although he continued to protests his innocence till the end of the trial.
This case involves a scam where Monqo and his wife took out life insurance policies on behalf of church members, his ex-lover, the mother of his child and planned their murders with intent to benefit from the payment of the life insurance policies. Life insurance policies were taken on behalf of Nomfundiso Booi, Anelisa Xhotyeni, Bulelwa Sihawu, and Koloi. These unsuspecting victims were insured with various life insurance companies and the accused stood to benefit more than R26,9 million from payouts.
The well calculated scam was proceeding well until the afternoon of 05 July 2018 when a lone fisherman, Francois Gerber, on his way to fish at Herolds Bay found the body of Koloi lying on the side of Voëlklip gravel road. He contacted the police who started their investigation on why a body of a smartly dressed young woman lay motionless on the side of a deserted gravel road.
After the discovery of the body, Monqo and Pamba gave the investigating officer Sergeant Thembekile Matwa false statements on 11 July 2018 and the three accused were arrested on different dates soon afterwards. Ensuing investigations revealed that the unemployed Koloi was told that she had a job interview at the George Airport. On this day, she called friends to borrow money for a taxi fare to attend the interview. Her boyfriend and her brother accompanied her to the hiking spot at Thembalethu bridge, George.
She boarded a silver-grey sedan driven by Monqo with Qhusheka sitting at the back. A few hours later, her lifeless body was found with seven stab wounds and a slit throat.
The investigation also revealed that other similar cases were committed in and around the jurisdictions of Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth, Bisho, Mthatha and Western Cape. Senior State Advocate, Evadne Kortje obtained a centralisation certificate from the National Director of Public Prosecutions in order to prosecute the case in the Western Cape. She called 36 witnesses including three 204 witness who implicated the three accused in the crimes.
The Acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Advocate Nicolette Bell, commended Advocate Kortje and Sergeant Matwa for the sterling work they have done over the past three years and four months.
“Sergeant Matwa criss-crossed two provinces collecting evidence, consulting witnesses and victims and brought all that evidence to Advocate Kortje. She managed to put together a complicated case, worked with emotional witnesses and successfully proved her proved her case beyond reasonable doubt. This is an exhibition that our coordinated approach to dealing with crimes are paying off and resulting in long sentences.”
The NPA has been ordered to organise counselling for the Koloi family an instruction the NPA happily executes.