The Western Cape High Court on Wednesday sentenced Goodman Nobade, 58, to life in jail for killing his wife, dismembering her and then disposing of the body parts across Khayelitsha, Cape Town.
Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe found that the aggravating factors around his customary wife Agnes Msiza’s murder were so “extreme and shocking”, that the only just and equitable sentence was life imprisonment.
She said that chopping up his wife would have been a gruesome act, something which he successfully carried out before throwing away her body parts like refuse.
“You clearly have no soul,” she said in her sentencing judgment.
“In the process you robbed her family from the important cultural burial rituals and funeral processes and allowing them to get closure on the death of their loved one. This is the conduct of a heartless monster.”
She said there was a scourge of violent crime against women, referring to Jason Rohde and Rob Packham, who were both sentenced in the same court for killing their wives Susan and Gill and trying to dispose of evidence.
“In both these matters, the narrative had become a familiar feature in our courts, society and the media: an unhappy husband eliminates his wife by murdering her and then concealing her death to escape the letter of the law.
‘An attack on humanity and our community’
“The increase of women being savagely murdered and butchered in their homes or by their partners remains an attack on humanity and our community. It can never be tolerated.”
Nobade had pleaded not guilty to murder, assault with intent to inflict grievous harm, and defeating the ends of justice.
He did not testify in mitigation of sentence and was found to have shown no remorse.
Msiza applied for an interim protection order against him in September 2016 but died at his hands in their Mbethankuzi Street home in Site B on April 20, 2017.
Nobade claimed in a statement to police that he had stabbed his wife in self-defence during an argument in which she had walked towards him with a knife.
He said it all “happened so quickly” and realised she had been stabbed and was dying.
“I then realised that I have killed her and she is a woman and woman [sic] are having too much rights. If I repeat this to the community members I will be killed and if I go the police station, I will be arrested,” he said in his statement.
“… I also thought of my age that I am very old to go to prison and die there.”
He admitted to police that he cut up her body, put the parts in black bags and dumped it across different parts of Khayelitsha.
Only her head and thigh were ever retrieved. A forensic pathologist had told the court that it would have taken a significant amount of force to sever or separate the bone.
His defence team asked the court to see the offences as “crimes of passion” and to take into account that his lowered perception of women and their subservient role to men emanated from a cultural perception.
But Salie-Hlophe rejected this argument.
“It is an unconstitutional notion that the killing of a woman by a man in the torrent of a stormy marriage or quarrel warrants the imposition of a lesser sentence,” the judge said.
“This is born from an antiquated and patriarchal notion that women ought to be subservient to their male partners. It flies in the face of the fundamental human rights of equality and dignity.”