Stock image of a gavel, handcuffs and law books. Image: Adobe Stock

Familicide: Man gets multiple life sentences for wiping out his family

The events that led to the familicide stem from a disagreement over the construction of the family home.


Stock image of a gavel, handcuffs and law books. Image: Adobe Stock

A Sterkspruit man has been handed four life sentences by the Eastern Cape division of the High Court of South Africa for committing familicide – the murder of several members of one’s own family.

Thobani Kesa’s father, mother, sister and niece were found “burnt beyond recognition” in their home in Sterkspruit on 22 July 2018.

What led to the brutal familicide?

According the the National Prosecuting (NPA), the horrifying sequence of events began when Kesa, 39, and his brother were asked to construct a house by their mother and father, with the promise of payment to follow.

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The brothers were paid a deposit and started building the house. However, they did not complete the job.

“They [the brothers] demanded payment for the balance despite not having finished and that led to a quarrel. The two brothers approached the local magistrates’ Small Claims Court demanding R20 000.

“In the presence of the court clerk dealing with their claim, Kesa accused his mother of being a witch and dared her to pay him or face death,” said the NPA’s spokesperson in the Eastern Cape, Luxolo Tyali, in a statement.

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After the threats, the mother and father sought and received a protection order against their two sons.

Discovery of the bodies

On the morning when police arrived at the razed house and found the familicide victims, they scoured the scene and found blood spatters on the floor. After later finding Kesa with blood stains on his clothes, police arrested him.

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“The blood found on his clothes was linked through DNA to the blood found on the scene, which belongs to his mother, an indication that the deceased may have been assaulted before being burnt to death.”

Luxolo Tyali

Judge, prosecutor appalled by familicide perpetrator

The prosecutor, advocate Luvuyo Pomolo, labelled Kesa as a cunning criminal, in aggravation of sentence.

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“Not every day that one hears of a case in which a person has wiped out almost his entire family from the face of the earth,” Pomolo said of the familicide.

Judge Mbulelo Jolwana, who called Kesa “a dangerous criminal”, additionally sentenced him to five years for arson and declared him unfit to possess a firearm.