Black widow's appeal bid fails

15 March 2011 - 00:33 By OLEBOGENG MOLATLHWA

Convicted murderer Mulalo Sivhidzho will not be able to appeal the life sentence handed to her for having her husband killed.

Sivhidzho and her two co-accused, Ntambudzeni Matsenene and Arnold Sello, yesterday had their applications for leave to appeal their convictions and sentences dismissed by acting Judge Naren Pandya in the Johannesburg High Court.

Judge Pandya said the trio had failed to show that exceptional circumstances existed for his judgment and sentences to be set aside.

Sivhidzho's lawyer, Anneline Roestoff, argued that the court had erred in convicting her client largely on circumstantial evidence.

"Another court may arrive at a different conclusion," Roestoff argued.

But Judge Pandya disagreed, ruling that "the facts and evidence against applicant three [Sivhidzho] were overwhelming".

"The court found that the statement made by her amounted to a confession," he said.

"It is my view that there is no prospect of another court coming to a different conclusion. Therefore, the applicant's application for leave to appeal is dismissed."

Sivhidzho's assertion that her case might have been prejudiced because the cross-examination of a witness by her then lawyer Christo Meiring was "curtailed", was dismissed on the grounds that Meiring had been "aggressive".

Judge Pandya ruled that Sello and Matsenene's statements amounted to confessions with the latter's statement "confirmed by evidence from other witnesses".

Prosecutor Maro Pappachristoforou said in her heads of argument: "The applicants were bad witnesses whose evidence was riddled with contradictions and inconsistencies. All three were bad liars who were repeatedly caught in their own web of lies."

Matsenene was sentenced to the maximum of life in prison for the murder, five years for kidnapping and three years for malicious damage to property. Sello received an additional 15-year sentence for aggravated robbery.

Sivhidzho's husband of six months, Avhatakali Netshisaulu, was kidnapped, robbed and burnt alive while locked inside the boot of his car on December 7 2006.

She was found guilty on December 7 last year.