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Jayde Panayiotou's killer handed another life sentence for 2015 murder of Gqeberha granny

29 April 2021 - 19:22 By orrin singh
From left Fikile Mengo, Mkhuseli Ngqanda, Thanduxolo Vumazonke, and Sinethemba Nenembe in the dock of the high court in Gqeberha on Wednesday for the brutal murder of murder of Denise Webber, 78.
From left Fikile Mengo, Mkhuseli Ngqanda, Thanduxolo Vumazonke, and Sinethemba Nenembe in the dock of the high court in Gqeberha on Wednesday for the brutal murder of murder of Denise Webber, 78.
Image: Eugene Coetzee/The Herald

Just four months after murdering schoolteacher Jayde Panayiotou, Sinethemba Nenembe, 33, and three others murdered a 78-year-old grandmother in Gqeberha. 

Nenembe and his co-accused were sentenced for murder and aggravated robbery in the Gqeberha high court on Wednesday, bringing the six-year case of slain Denise Webber to a close. 

Webber, a resident of Kunene Park, was strangled in her flat in Needham Street on August 20 2015. 

Eastern Cape police spokesperson Col Priscilla Naidu outlined details of the case in a statement on Thursday, which culminated in the sentencing of the accused. 

“During the morning on [August 20] the domestic worker, 37, was overpowered by three men, one of whom she recognised, taken inside the house and her hands bound. Denise Webber, who lives in the granny flat on the premises was strangled. Both the main house and the flat were ransacked and household items and jewellery were taken.”

Naidu said Fikile Mengo, 25, worked as an additional assistant to the domestic worker who was pregnant at the time.

“The accused left with stolen property in a hired Toyota Atios. When Mengo’s friends [the co-accused] heard that Mengo was working at the house, they conspired to rob the owners. After the murder and robbery, Mengo and his bag were missing.”

Mengo was turned in by his grandmother eight days later.

“The remaining three accused, Mkhuseli Ngqanda, 34, Sinethemba Nenembe, 33, and Thanduxolo Vumazonke, 29, were arrested days later.”

She said most of the stolen property was recovered in the homes of the accused in New Brighton and Kwazakele.

“Three of the four accused are now serving sentences for previous crimes. Nenembe is also serving a life sentence for the murder of schoolteacher Jayde Panayiotou committed in April 2015.”

Mengo and Vumazonke were handed a 25-year prison sentence each for murder and aggravated robbery while Ngqanda and Nenembe received life sentences for murder and 15 years for aggravated robbery.

The aggravated robbery sentences will run concurrently with the life sentences.

Nenembe was hired by Christopher Panayiotou in 2015 to kill his wife.  

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Liziwe Ntshinga welcomed the sentencing of the four accused.

“It is clear that these criminals are not remorseful as all but one are already serving sentences for other crimes. Though this case has taken almost six years to finalise, the families can now find closure knowing that justice was meted out to those who had mercilessly murdered their elderly mother and grandmother. Their heinous deeds were intentional and we commend the prosecuting authority for ensuring that they are removed from society for a very long time.” 

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