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Pastors welcome life sentences given to two men who raped and murdered elderly nun

Mahikeng Ministers Fellowship (MMF) in the North West Province has welcomed the two life term sentences and 18 years imprisonment given to two men for the robbery, rape and murder of an elderly nun. The pair was convicted in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

"The befitting sentences should serve as a deterrent as they have reasserted that there is not place in society for perpetrators of horrendous sexual violence and those who violate, defile vulnerable elderly women," Chairperson of MMF(an interdenominational pastors fellowship), Apostle Zandisile Reginald Mpame said.

In applauding the criminal justice system for the successful prosecution, Apostle Mpame called on churches to be at the forefront of united action against the scourge of gender based violence.

"We should join the nuns at the convent in praying for the repentance and salvation of the convicted perpetrators," Mpame urged.

Sbongiseni Phungula, 25, and Mondli Michael Shozi, 26, had entered a guilty plea for the slaying of Roman Catholic missionary sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher at the Sacred Heart Convent in April.

Cries of "Thank you Jesus” reportedly erupted from the public gallery as the sentence was passed.

The life sentences were for the rape and murder, and the 18 years for robbery.

Judge Nompumelelo Radebe had scathing remarks for the two, whom she described as more embarrassed than contrite.

"Judging from the demeanor of the accused, this court finds that they have not displayed any remorse. They kept on hiding beneath the dock and the court has had to make them rise and sit up. They are simply embarrassed and I am sure they hate their deeds,” she said.

“In their plea explanation each said that they were deeply remorseful for their actions and besides that sentence that they have not done anything to show this. They have never taken the opportunity to face the nuns seated in the gallery and ask for forgiveness. They never once turned around or took the opportunity to apologise,” she said.

Tiefenbacher was strangled to death in her room, after Shozi and Phungula had raped her.

The two, who both had previous convictions, maintained that they had been drunk and had broken into the convent to steal food when they were disturbed by Tiefenbacher.

Radebe dismissed the assertion that the two were orphans as a mitigating factor in determining what term they should serve.


“Both of them were assisted by their grandmothers when they were growing up and showed ingratitude to them by raping a grandmother. There are a lot of orphans in our society, but these orphans do not go around committing crimes.”

“I wonder what is going through the minds of accused one’s [Shozi] grandparents as he sits here in the dock today,” Radebe added.

She said the long term of imprisonment for the two would give them ample opportunity to rehabilitate themselves.

“The accused will be removed from society for a long period of time, deterring them from killing, raping or robbing anyone else.

“If would-be offenders have ears, use them and be deterred from committing such heinous crimes,” she added.

Sister Gerald Frye, speaking on behalf the nuns that packed the public gallery, welcomed the judgment, saying that she and others would continue to pray for the two men

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