Judge George Webster said the evidence against Evans Mpanyane, 34, was overwhelming. He found him guilty of the December 2011 murders of his pregnant wife, Connie, and their daughters, Priscilla, six, and Joy, seven, near Kameeldrift in Pretoria North.
Mpanyane dumped his wife’s body, clad only in a bra and panties, in the veld after strangling her during what the court described as a massive struggle. A number of “suicide notes” in which his wife supposedly confessed that the children were not his and that she had been practising witchcraft were found tucked into a strap on her bra.
Mpanyane then drove around with his two little daughters in the back seat of the car before strangling them as well. He had lost his job as an artisan shortly before the incident.
Police found the bodies of his daughters in the back seat of his car after stopping him on suspicion that he might be involved in his wife’s murder. Judge Webster accepted the evidence of passers-by who testified that they had seen the two little girls playing in the back of the car after their mother’s body was found.
He also accepted the evidence of a handwriting expert that Mpanyane, and not his wife, had written the “suicide notes”. Judge Webster said medical evidence that all three victims had died of instrumental strangulation had not been placed in dispute.
This was in contravention of Mpanyane’s suggestion that his wife had poisoned the children with an untraceable toxin. A rope that was consistent with the ligature marks around the necks of all three victims was found in Mpanyane’s car and it was clear that he had arranged for his wife and children to meet him that day.
The judge said it was significant that Mpanyane had never exposed the “bizarre phenomenon” of his wife turning into a mermaid/snake-like creature during his bail application. Mrs Mpanyane’s body was ‘distinctly human’ when it was found, he added.
Judge Webster said he was not an expert on human conduct, but that he found it difficult to believe that a mother-to-be would strangle her two innocent young children in front of their father without him lifting a finger to help them.
The trial was postponed to January 27 next year for a pre-sentence report.