News - Date: 03 December 2004
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In a packed court room, people heard that the accused, Ntanguleni Neville Thavhanyedza (36), and his wife, Tovhowani Thavhanyedza, drifted apart due to domestic violence prevalent in the marriage. Thavhanyedza also told the court that his wife used to sleep around with her lover. In addition, he also said that his wife had debt of R20 000 and was building a big house at her mother’s home.
“When I reprimanded her, she applied for a protection order from the Thohoyandou police station,” Thavhanyedza said. “What angered me was that she told me that the four children we have are not my offspring. I took a spade and chopped Adivhaho, Pfano and Mashudu (his children) to death. The post mortem showed that the three children were lacerated in the neck and there were bruises around their necks and at the back.
After killing them, he wrote a suicide letter, bidding farewell to his family, wife, and friends. In the letter, he also asked them to bury his children in peace. He concluded by writing that he should be buried next to his children. Thavanyedza drank brake fluid and poisonous methylated spirits in an attempt to kill himself, but later drank milk to stabilise the poison that he had consumed.
Mrs Grace Thavhanyedza, wife of the accused, told the court that her husband did not trust her. She said she asked for the protection order from the police, seeing that her husband was controlling her salary. She was not allowed to help her sisters and relatives.
When passing judgment, Judge Makgoba said Thavhanyedza should have filed for divorce if he desired to escape his souring marriage. Venting his anger on his children was exactly the wrong thing to do. “The communities are sick and tired of woman and child abuse and it is good to look after their interests when I am passing this judgment,” said Judge Makgoba.
The accused was facing five charges, three of murder and of malicious damage to property and assaulting his wife. On each murder charge he was sentenced to twenty years imprisonment and to two years for assault and malicious damage to property. He will spend 62 years behind bars.
Mrs Grace Thavhanyedza said she was not satisfied with the sentence, because the judge did not sentence him for a long enough spell in prison. She is of the opinion that the law must consider that Thavhanyedza had killed three children and he should have been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison.