A Soshanguve man who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the gruesome muti murder and mutilation of a 10-year-old girl has lost his appeal against his conviction and sentence.
A full bench of the High Court in Pretoria confirmed the conviction and life sentence imposed in 2011 on Brian Mangwale, 38, for the December 2009 murder of schoolgirl Masego Kgomo.
The little girl was wearing an orange vest, black leggings, plastic jelly tots sandals and a braid in her hair when she told her mother on New Year’s day 2009 that she was going to play with her friends down the road.
Neither of them could have foreseen that the last day of 2009 would also be the last day of her young life.
Mangwale – in whose company she was seen before her disappearance – initially helped the Soshanguve community and police to search for her.
Eight days later, he took police to the Soshanguve station, where he pointed out the place in dense bushes where Masego’s badly decomposed and mutilated body was found.
He made three confessions about his role in the gruesome murder – all of them with different versions of who had actually killed and mutilated the child – but claimed in court he was innocent and was tortured by the police and told what to say.
Mangwale said in one of the statements he had been supplying children to kill for purposes of muti to two sangomas named Jan and Mabunda for a long period before December 2010, before Masego disappeared. Evidence was that the child’s womb and breasts were removed while she was still alive, and the body parts sold to a traditional healer for the amount of R4 800.
Mangwale claimed in his grounds of appeal the three confessions contained mutually destructive versions and the trial court should never have accepted them as evidence against him. But the full bench found the state had proved his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and that the court had correctly rejected his claims of torture.
The judges said Mangwale’s versions all told the same story, but just differed about whether he had stabbed Masego or was merely present when it was done.
They were satisfied that Mangwale’s confessions and pointing out were admissible and did not require to be excluded in order for Mangwale to have a fair trial.