The Mdantsane Regional Court has sentenced Siphelo Melfin to 20 years behind the bar for murdering his 5-year-old stepdaughter. Nosikhumbuzo Mabusela, the mother of the girl also bagged three years’ imprisonment for defeating the ends of justice. The sentences will run concurrently.

The 5-year-old drew her last breath in June 2016 after she was assaulted by her stepfather Siphelo (32) for soiling herself. Siphelo Melfin was with Mabusela when he noticed that the girl [Kungawo] had soiled herself. He became angry and began to beat her. Kungawo was badly beaten until she became unconscious and died. She was immediately wrapped up in a blanket by her stepfather, who took secretly buried her in her 76-year-old step grandmother’s garden. They kept the incident to themselves but only told Siphelo’s mother, who advised them not to let the cat out the bag. However, the crime came to light a month later when the police were alerted. They came and found the body of the 5-year-old lying in a shallow grave in Potsdam.

In her judgment, Magistrate Bulelwa Gixana described the crime as gruesome. She added: “A child soiling herself is part of growing up and can’t be her signing her own death warrant. She died a gruesome death at the hands of the people who were supposed to love and nurture her. I can just imagine her screams and million apologies she made and the extreme pain she was in before she died at such a tender age. In my opinion that was cruelty at its worst. More heinous was the fact that you tried to hide your gruesome act. Had it not been for the vigilance of the community members and neighbours, you would have got away with murder.” After the sentence was handed down the couple stood in the dock emotionless. There were no family members in the courtroom. Siphelo Melfin worked as a security guard with a monthly salary of R3500.

Port Elizabeth National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Tsepo Ndwalaza also confirmed the sentencing. Meanwhile, Mabusela other two children ( eight and eleven) have since been taken to a place of safety.

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