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Published On: Tue, Aug 30th, 2016

Man axes wife, volunteer cop after domestic dispute

A MAN from Bulilima allegedly brutally axed his wife and a neighbourhood watch committee member who was five months pregnant to death before hanging himself following a domestic dispute.

His eight-year-old stepdaughter, who witnessed the gruesome incident, fled for her life before her stepfather turned on her.

Villagers said Professor Phuthi (28) first burnt property at his homestead in Village 26, Dombolefu Ward on Saturday morning before waylaying his wife, Ms Sibongile Mhlanga (27), while she was on her way to Dombodema Police Base in the company of Ms Elizabeth Maphosa as well as her daughter.

The two women were going to the police station to report him for domestic violence.

Matabeleland South provincial police spokesperson Inspector Philani Ndebele confirmed the incident.

“I can confirm that there is an incident of a man in Bulilima District who axed two women to death. One of the women was his wife and the other a member of the neighbourhood watch committee,” he said.

The police spokesperson said the murder suspect later committed suicide.

Elizabeth’s father, Mr France Maphosa, who is also the head of Village 26 in Dombolefu Ward, said before she was murdered, Ms Mhlanga had reported her husband to the police as he was abusing her.

“Professor and his wife were constantly fighting and in their recent dispute he was accusing her of having an affair. On Friday MaMhlanga eventually filed a report against him at Dombodema Police Base and the police gave her a letter summoning her husband to the station.

“She took the letter to her husband while in the company of my daughter who is a neighbourhood watch committee member. Professor became violent and his wife fled from their homestead and slept at my house,” he said.

Mr Maphosa said the following morning, he assigned his daughter to accompany Ms Mhlanga to the police station to report that her husband had turned violent when he learnt that she had already reported the matter to the police.

He said after walking for about four kilometres, Professor intercepted them while armed with an axe and struck Ms Maphosa on her left abdomen and head and then turned on his wife.

Mr Maphosa said Ms Mhlanga struggled with her husband and sustained cuts and bruises on her hands but he overpowered her and struck her on the head as well.

Both women died on the spot.

“This brutal killing was witnessed by MaMhlanga’s eight-year-old daughter. She said her stepfather first attacked Elizabeth and then turned on his wife. The girl said she fled from the scene before her stepfather could attack her and sought refuge at a nearby homestead,” Mr Maphosa said.

Professor’s grandfather, Mr Rabson Phuthi, said his grandson’s body was found hanging from a tree about 10 kilometres from where he butchered the two women.

He said his grandson had always been violent towards his wife even before he allegedly caught her red-handed with another man.

Mr Phuthi said family elders had tried to engage the couple but their efforts were fruitless. “Their union wasn’t even formal because Professor just met MaMhlanga and took her into his house without meeting his family. Before committing this evil act, Professor first burnt some of his property and his wife’s clothes,” he said.

Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs Senzeni Maphosa, said her daughter’s death had left her heartbroken.

“I didn’t know that when we sent Elizabeth to the police station we were sending her to her death. She was merely performing her duties as a neighbourhood watch committee member. She didn’t deserve to die in such a ruthless manner,” said Mrs Maphosa as she broke into tears.

Villagers said prior to the gruesome murder, Professor recently beat up his wife and left her tied to a tree in a bush.

She was allegedly freed by passersby.

The latest murders and suicide come a week after Matabeleland South police launched a campaign against crimes of passion.— Chronicle