The family of a teenager who witnessed his mother being shot dead by his father have opened up about the horror of reliving the nightmare daily without counselling, two months after the incident.
Speaking at the brief bail hearing of murder accused Sipho Hector Mdletshe in the Protea Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, the family members said the cold-blooded killing in broad daylight of Nomsa Hilda Mbuyisa had robbed them of a loving mother and a breadwinner.
The deceased’s son Mthunzi Mbuyisa and his aunt Lindiwe Mazibuko gave a graphic description of how Mdletshe allegedly gunned down Nomsa in Mofolo, Soweto, in May as she waited to board a taxi to work.
“Mthunzi kept on telling his mother to ignore his father and walk away. But she insisted on talking to him, and as she reached for her bag, Sipho reached for his gun and fired two shots directly at her. And when she collapsed on the ground, he shot her in the head,” Mazibuko said.
The mother of three died instantly while her 19-year-old son Mthunzi watched the nightmare unfold. Mazibuko, 27, said Nomsa asked her brother to accompany her to catch a taxi on that fateful morning because she feared meeting her former partner along the way.
Her brother and Nomsa’s son Mthunzi, who was going to school, walked with her because they knew about the suspect’s history of abusing her. “Mthunzi looked back and saw that his father was following them; the teenager had already crossed the road, waiting for his uncle and mother to cross.
“After they crossed the road and were about to board the taxi, Sipho pretended to walk away. But instead he turned around, and shot Nomsa in the arm and shoulder,” said Mazibuko.
After Nomsa fell to the ground, he shot her sister in the head and her brother in his right foot, she added. “My uncle tried to stop him and got shot in the foot, but he managed to run.” He then pointed the gun at his son, but Mthunzi managed to push the firearm away from him and ran away.
Mthunzi said he would continue to be a pillar of strength and comfort to his two younger siblings, aged 12 and 15. Mthunzi and his family were referred for counselling sessions at Moroka police station, but the woman who was supposed to assist has not yet contacted them.
Mazibuko said she enquired about the counselling sessions, but with no success. She said the whole family were struggling with the violent killing of Nomsa and desperately needed professional help to deal with the trauma. “With everything that has happened, I am trying my best to be strong and make peace with it, and live my life. I want to live a life that I know my mother would be proud of, but it is really not easy. I believe that as time goes by I will eventually be fine,” Mthunzi added.
He is currently upgrading his matric results at a school in Braamfontein and said he planned to study film and television next year. “I really miss her. Everyone in the house could feel her presence when she was awake, and now there is a big void in the house.”
Mazibuko, who is Nomsa’s youngest sibling, said the couple were together for 23 years and Mdletshe was allegedly abusive during most of their relationship.
“Ever since we knew him, he was not a good guy. We tried to stop her and told her to leave him, but she didn’t. What he did was plain selfish. He was her first boyfriend and her first everything,” said Mazibuko.
To make matters worse, Mazibuko received a letter of dismissal when she returned to work after her sister’s funeral. She was accused of being away from work for too long. Themba Mazibuko, Nomsa’s twin brother, said he was extremely disappointed with the court proceedings so far.
“The court is not taking this matter seriously. Previously, the magistrate was late and the case was postponed. Today we were told to get out of the courtroom, which we did, and the proceedings were again postponed. We don’t know what is happening. I guess that in order for her case to be taken seriously, she should have died in Sandton and been beautiful,” he said.
A group of women called Women of Strength 1 Voice came to offer support. The founder, Dieketseng Modiba, said many cases of femicide were not treated as priority cases by the justice system, and that had to stop.
“We seek justice and we want all of this to stop. I decided to start the group after hearing about Nomsa’s death. We are supporting women who have fallen victim to the scourge of gender-based violence until something is done,” Modiba said.