Two men sentenced to double life sentence for the murder of a young couple in Kgapane

CRIME

By Agreement Mabunda

KGAPANE- Limpopo Division of High Court in Polokwane handed two life sentences to the double murder accused, Matome Godfrey Motolla, 39, and Mbofeni Steve Shirindza, 49, who brutally murdered a couple at Ga-Rapitsi village in Bolobedu outside Tzaneen on 06 October 2020.

Two counts of murder and a case of theft were opened at the local police station and later transferred to the Provincial Murder and Robbery Unit. The case was initially assigned to Sergeant Suprise  Mgabini, and after his passing, Sergeant Mokhepho Gafane continued with investigations to ensure the job was complete and justice prevailed.

The accused were sentenced on Friday, 23 February,  after they were found guilty of double murder and theft. In addition to the two life sentences, they were sentenced to one-year imprisonment for theft of a cellphone

The couple, Lucia Malapane,18, and Nius Malatjie,22, were found dead at their residence in Ga-Rapitsi village, Itereleng Section, by their neighbour, who was Malatjie’s employer. The court heard that the businessman had gone to the house to find out why his employee did not report for work that morning when he made the gruesome discovery. On arrival, police found the deceased with gruesome injuries and their 12-month-old baby sitting next to the bodies.

The intense investigation into the killings continued until three suspects were arrested at the weekend. The suspects were found in possession of one of the couple’s cell phones.

The murders sparked widespread violent protests by community members in the area after they first accused the said businessman of being responsible for the brutal murder.

The third accused was released by the court after he could not be linked to the cases. The investigating officer Sergeant Gafane successfully opposed bail until the accused were ultimately convicted and sentenced on Friday, 23 February 2024.

The Limpopo Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe commended the investigating officer who was adamant for justice to prevail. “We also encourage communities to work with the police and allow us space to pursue our investigations so that we arrest the right people for the crimes committed,” she said.

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