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Avhapfani Eric Mundalamo was denied bail by the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court last Friday last week. Photo: Victor Mukwevho.

No bail for man accused of killing estranged wife in church

 

The family of Funanani Patience Mbedzi clapped hands spontaneously inside the courtroom when Avhapfani Eric Mundalamo’s bail application was denied by the Thohoyandou Magistrate’s Court last Friday morning. Mundalamo is accused of shooting and killing his estranged wife while she was busy worshiping at the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ Church at Makonde Shadani.

When the presiding officer, magistrate Grace Mashau, adjourned the court proceedings after passing judgement, the late Mbedzi’s younger sister, Lienet Mbedzi, shouted at Mundalamo who, at the time, was being led down to the holding cells by police officers. “Go to where you belong, wife killer,” she said. Gender activists who were in court started singing songs, lambasting those who still abuse women and children in the country.

Mundalamo was arrested for brutally killing his estranged wife, Funanani Patience Mbedzi, on 30 March this year. She was a popular choir leader and the incident happened while she was leading the choir performance.

The 42-year-old Ms Funanani Mbedzi Mundalamo was a well-known figure in the Khubvi area. She had her own business, Funi’s Hair Salon.

During the bail application, which lasted for two days, Mundalamo’s legal counsel, Rendani Netshiunda, was the first to cross examine him in an effort to prove to the court that his client was a good candidate to be released on bail. Mundalamo told the court that, after the incident, he had driven to Saselamani near Malamulele, where he had wanted to commit suicide.

He also told the court that he was currently employed by the Department of Education as an educator and head of department (HOD) at Thambatshira Secondary School. He said that if he were not granted bail, he would lose his job and would not be able to support his four children.

When asked by his legal counsel how he was working while he was in jail, Mundalamo said he had taken a three-month leave period from work shortly before the incident. He also showed the court his latest payslip for June 2024 to prove that he was still working. He added that he could not evade trial if he were released on bail as he had two houses at Ha-Matsika and Ha-Sidou. He also said that he had handed himself over to the police after the shooting.

The state prosecutor, however, came out with all guns blazing when cross examining Mundalamo, poking holes into his testimony. She told the court that for Mundalamo to have driven from Makonde to Saselamani, which is approximately 50km away, after committing the crime, was enough reason to believe that Mundalamo was a danger to the public and to himself. She said he had committed the crime in a public space in church, where other congregants could have been injured or killed. “I put it to you that as you told this court that you wanted to commit suicide after you committed the crime, there are possibilities that if you are granted bail, you might go out there and kill yourself,” she said.

She said Mundalamo had handed himself to the police two days after committing the crime, just because he had known that he had nowhere to run and he would definitely be traced and arrested. “As the state, we say Mundalamo should not be given bail. The crime he has committed falls under schedule 6 and there is outcry about the killing of women and children in the country. He should be in custody until his case is finalised,” she concluded.

In her judgment, magistrate Grace Mashau said the accused had failed to prove that any exceptional circumstances existed that might have motivated a bail application. She denied the application and postponed the case to 9 August.

 

 

Date:05 July 2024

By: Victor Mukwevho

Victor Mukwevho Ne-vumbani joined the Mirror during it's inception in 1990. He joined the SABC newsroom in 1995, and was known by  listeners as "A u fhedzisela ari". He was a news editor for The Tembisan Newspaper from 2007 to 2015. He rejoined the Limpopo Mirror newspaper in June 2022 as a freelance journalist.

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