The High Court of South Africa; North West Division, sitting at Mogwase Regional Court, sentenced Thapelo Ramoruki (29), to life imprisonment for the murder of Tsholofelo Tsheko, known to be his girlfriend. He was sentenced to a further six-year imprisonment, for pointing a firearm and the court declared him unfit to possess a firearm. The sentence will run concurrently.
It is alleged that on 12 January 2021, Ramoruki who is a traditional healer together with Tsheko, their one-month-old baby and Tsheko’s younger brother drove to Sandfontein cemetery, to perform a ritual for his child. He took with him petrol, a pellet gun, a knife and traditional beer for that purpose. They then performed the ritual and subsequently moved to a nearby dam to cleanse themselves before going home.
At the dam, Ramoruki pointed a gun at himself, then later pointed it at Tsheko and ordered her to hand over the baby to her younger brother. He further instructed them to wait in the car. He then poured the girlfriend with petrol and set her alight. He went on to stab her in the abdomen several times, while she was burning. Tsheko’s younger brother saw flames and heard his sister screaming for help. He then took off with the car to seek help, police were also called and the suspect was arrested on the scene. Tsheko was rushed to Moses Kotane hospital, where she received medical attention but died on 13 January 2021.
The post-mortem report determined the cause of death, as multiple injuries, caused by stab and burn wounds. In aggravation of sentence, Adv. Sello Maema pleaded with the court not to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence, as there are no compelling and substantial circumstances to justify that. Judge Tebogo Djadje shared the same sentiment and indicated that there is a huge outcry on gender-based violence and femicide and courts should restore faith in communities on such serious offences.
The Director of Public Prosecutions in the North West, Dr Rachel Makhar-Sekhaolelo, welcomes this conviction and she lauded the SAPS and the state prosecutor for their hard work. “This should be a stern warning to those who may want to commit a similar offence that the criminal justice system is serious in dealing with gender-based violence and femicide and the abuse of women and children”, she concluded.