A Mokopane woman who paid a hitman R250 000 to kill her husband eight years ago has been sentenced to life imprisonment.
Sentencing Lerato Seletela, 38, for the January 2008 murder of her husband, CSIR bioscience researcher Nelson Mampuru, Judge Ben Jordaan said in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria the murder had been preplanned and was cold-blooded, cruel and unnecessary.
Mampuru, 38, was shot dead at his home in Equestria, Pretoria, in the presence of his wife and two of his children during a fake robbery staged by his wife.
His killer, Johannes Baloyi, who is serving an 18-year prison term after pleading guilty to the murder, testified that Seletela had paid him for the murder from the proceeds of an insurance policy on her late husband’s life.
Seletela was pregnant with another man’s child at the time of the murder.
She had repeatedly told two of her closest friends that she wanted to kill her husband and also asked a traditional healer for muti to kill her husband. When the healer refused, she said she would make other plans and then offered to pay Baloyi to assassinate her husband.
Baloyi gave chilling evidence in which he described how Mampuru had realised that it was a hit and asked what would happen to his children seconds before he put a pillow on Mampuru’s head and shot him execution-style.
Seletela’s 19-year-old son Wilfred testified that his mother was the sole provider for her six children, of which the youngest was just 14 months old. He said he would have to leave college and the children would be left in the care of an elderly grandmother if his mother was sent to prison.
He tearfully told the court he could not live without his mother and begged the judge to sentence her to community service.
Mampuru’s brother Prof Leseilane Mampuru said in a statement his brother’s death had caused untold misery and financial hardships for his family. His brother had helped the community with skills transfer projects and his death was a loss for the community and his employer.
Judge Jordaan said Seletela had a husband who cared for her and her children and did not abuse them, but she was not happy with that. She could have left him, but repeatedly threatened to kill him, was not deterred by warnings of the consequences and hired a hitman to kill him.
He refused Seletela leave to appeal against her conviction and sentence, saying the evidence against her was overwhelming.