Simphiwe Pongoba, an ex-cop who has been charged with the murder of his fiancée, Thabisa Matiyana, is appearing before the Western Cape High Court today. Thabisa was found dead by her sister in the house that she shared with Simphiwe. Today, Simphiwe will be appearing before the court for sentencing.
My name is all over the news, with many South Africans calling for the death sentence to be reinstated. It is on everyone’s lips that I have brutally killed a woman. My beautiful pregnant fiancée who still had a bright future ahead of her. As I climb up the steps to the courtroom escorted by heavily armed police officers I catch the eyes of my dearest mother who is weeping because of the shame that I have brought her.
I take my eyes away from her only for them to fall on the figure of Thabisa’s mother. She is wailing despairingly. I can’t imagine the pain in her heart. No mother wants to bury her child. I look around the courtroom and all I see are people who are calling for my head. The handcuffs on my wrists are as cold as the heart that the police woman who arrested me said I have. I sit on a hard stool with a microphone staring me in the face.
Judge Noxolo Dubula walks into the courtroom. Everyone stands up until she takes her seat.
I have seen Judge Noxolo Dubula on TV. She is known for her harsh sentences. I remember her anger about the fact that men continue to assault and kill women. She handed one man who had killed his girlfriend a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Oh Lord! I would never have expected to find myself in her courtroom charged with the murder of the woman I loved with all my heart.
The journalists have occupied every corner of the courtroom. Every five seconds I hear camera clicks. The flashes hit me in the eye, blinding me.
This is going to be a very long day. Looking at Judge Noxolo Dubula’s facial expression, I am sure everyone will leave the courtroom satisfied. I have accepted my fate and I am not hoping for any kind of leniency.
Thabisa died in our house and I was the only one there when it happened. My lawyer has only my version of events as defence against the prosecutor. My lawyer believes my side of the story but will the court believe it too? The fact that no other person saw what happened that night makes my chances of escaping a life sentence even slimmer.
I shut my eyes and say a silent prayer before my sentencing: “Oh Lord, the world is judging me today but I don’t fear its judgement. I only fear yours. Please have mercy on my soul.”
Judge Noxolo Dubula opens her mouth. Her lips move up and down but I hear nothing. It’s as if my ears have been sewn shut. My cheeks are wet with tears as they have been every day that I’ve been in this court. The media has even named me ‘The Crocodile Teared Killer’.
My lawyer is wiping the sweat off his face with a handkerchief. He gave this fight his all, using the circumstantial evidence he had. I wouldn’t have asked for any other lawyer. The prosecutor has confidence painted all over his face as we await the verdict.
As the present falls apart, my thoughts drag me many years back, to when I first met Thabisa.
Tell us: Without knowing everything that has happened, what can you already say might work against Simphiwe in court?