South African police officer sentenced to three life terms for killing his wife, her sister and brother

Wednesday, June 12, 2024 - The Mpumalanga High Court in South Africa has sentenced a 39-year-old police officer, Sizwe Cedric Khoza to three life sentences for killing his wife and her siblings.

Khoza, who was attached to Masoyi police station, shot and killed his wife, 35-year-old Nomthandazo Mnisi last year. He also shot her 32-year-old sister, Colisile Mnisi, and her 42-year-old brother, Dennis Mkhantshwa, in Hazyview on 30 April 2023.

Khoza shot the siblings in cold blood during a family meeting seeking to resolve his marital issues with his wife.

The judgement was handed down on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, by Judge Takalani Vincent Ratshibvumo, who also declared Khoza medically unfit to possess a fireman.

Judge Ratshibvumo imposed the sentence against Khoza “to send a message to the community of Masoye”

"I checked to see if there is any substantial and compelling reason that justifies deviation from the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment,” said Judge Ratshibvumo.

“The more I zoomed into these traditional mitigating factors, instead of me finding anything substantial and compelling to justify the imposition of anything less, unfortunately, I find even more aggravating factors.

“In fact, deviation from the prescribed sentences will send a wrong message to the community. The community of Masoye and people of Mpumalanga have to know that the courts are not going to tolerate gender-based violence

“The message has to go out to the streets of Mbombela that anyone who violates women will be dealt with by the courts mercilessly

“For the simple reason that you have one life, the legislature also provides that any sentence that is imposed together with life imprisonment shall run concurrently with life imprisonment. As a result, the sentences in count number 2 and 3 shall run concurrently with sentences in count 1," said the Judge.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga, Khoza had last week, pleaded guilty in the High Court in Mbombela to three counts of murder after he shot the two sisters who were working as nurses, and their brother Dennis Collen Mkhatshwa.

“The accused in the matter (Khoza) pleaded guilty on three counts of murder and the matter was postponed to June 10, 2024 for sentencing proceedings,” Mpumalanga NPA regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said last week.

Khoza returned to court on Monday, where the case was rolled over to Tuesday.

During the appearance on Monday, Nyuswa said the State and the defence presented arguments in aggravation and mitigation of Khoza’s sentence.

Court papers revealed that prior to the shooting incident, Khoza and Nomthandazo were having challenges in their marriage.

The police officer also invited his relatives to the meeting which was held at his residence on April 30 last year

The meeting degenerated, and according to court papers, Khoza became angry and stormed out of the meeting.

“He came back armed. He cocked the firearm and shot the two deceased (Xolisile Mnisi and Dennis Collen Mkhatshwa) and his wife (Nomthandazo). The three deceased died at the scene of the crime,” the court papers detail.

Injuries suffered by the three family members are also detailed in the court papers, including gunshot wounds to their heads, multiple perforating gunshot wounds to the chest, with lung and liver injuries

After Khoza’s conviction, Nyuswa on behalf of the NPA in Mpumalanga, told IOL that the State will ask the court to impose “a severe sentence” on Khoza.

At the time, acting national spokesperson for the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid), Robbie Raburabu said the police officer allegedly used his service pistol to slaughter the siblings

"The family were meeting, following a dispute between the suspect constable and his wife. When things did not go the suspect’s way, he decided to go fetch his service pistol and fatally shot the three family members, including his wife,” said Raburabu.

Ipid investigators were summoned to the crime scene at Kamajika Trust near Sabie Sand in Mpumalanga province. 

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