Cape Town -Standing about a metre from the man who murdered her mother, a woman described how the killing ravaged her life.
While Tsungai Paidamoyo Gwatidzo, 21, testified in the Cape Town Regional Court on Friday, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu’s wife Leah wept silently in the public gallery, where she was seated to support Gwatidzo.
Gwatidzo’s mother, Angela Machinga, 40, was a domestic worker for Archbishop Tutu’s daughter Mpho, and was murdered in her Milnerton home on April 12, 2012.
Olwethu Matiso, who had worked as a gardener for Mpho, and also occasionally at the cleric’s home, was last month convicted of killing her.
He was found guilty of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.
Machinga’s body was found in a bedroom.
She had been strangled and her body wrapped in a rug.
On Friday Gwatidzo, who was flown to Cape Town from her family home in Zimbabwe, testified during sentencing procedures against Matiso.
He was expected to have been sentenced yesterday, but proceedings were postponed so a probation officer’s report could be compiled.
Matiso is expected to be sentenced next month.
Yesterday Gwatidzo, standing in a witness box barely a metre from where Matiso was sitting in the dock, testified about the effects of her mother’s murder on her life.
“That was the most painful and worst thing that happened in my life… If she’d been sick I know God would have given me time to care for her.
“But because someone took her life, not by poisoning, but by a weapon… That was the most painful thing in my life,” she said.
Gwatidzo wept as she spoke.
“He made my mother suffer… My mother, she died suffering and in pain. He didn’t even give her time…
“He took my mom’s life.”
Gwatidzo said her mother, also from Zimbabwe, had come to South Africa to work.
Machinga had been the family breadwinner as Gwatidzo’s father died when she was much younger.
Gwatidzo said her mother supported her and her 15-year-old brother.
She said that when her mother died, she could no longer continue her schooling because no one could pay for it.
Now she had little hope of resuming her studies because she had already missed two years of schooling.
She said she had tried to get scholarships, but some applications required a fee she could not afford or raise.
“The family situation has been hard since (my mother’s) death. There are times my brother doesn’t go to school… Sometimes I have to look for part-time jobs,” Gwatidzo said.
She and her brother, who suffered asthma attacks and had not coped well since their mother’s murder, now lived with their aunt in Zimbabwe.
Her grandmother was trying to pay her brother’s school fees.
Gwatidzo said her father died when she was in Grade 3, her maternal grandfather had also died, as had her paternal grandparents.
She said she was worried about her family’s safety.
“If someone could have done that at 12 in the afternoon… I’m worried he’s capable of doing more to us,” Gwatidzo said.
When she finished testifying, Leah Tutu hugged her as she returned to sit in the public gallery.
Magistrate Victor Gibson said a number of factors needed to be taken into account during sentencing. These included the interests of society, which was important in South Africa “which is unfortunately faced with a tsunami of violent crimes”.
He said it was inevitable that Matiso would face severe consequences.
After proceedings, Matiso, who was handcuffed before leaving the courtroom, looked towards a few people in the public gallery apparently there to support him.
He did not make eye contact with Gwatidzo or Leah Tutu.
Outside the courtroom a man who told Weekend Argus he was Matiso’s brother, and who chatted briefly to Matiso, declined to comment. – Saturday Argus