maintenance businessman

The Johannesburg High Court has ordered a businessman to pay R70k in maintenance. Photo: Pexels/Ekaterina Bolovstova

Zimbabwean gardener gets 30 years for murder of KZN pensioner

Douglas Mataula was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment in the PMB High Court for the robbery and murder of Sharon-Lee Deetlefs.

maintenance businessman

The Johannesburg High Court has ordered a businessman to pay R70k in maintenance. Photo: Pexels/Ekaterina Bolovstova

The family of 62-year-old Sharon-Lee Deetlefs received the justice they were fighting for after Douglas Mataula was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment on Thursday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court. Deetlefs’ gardener pleaded guilty to robbing and murdering the pensioner in December.


Deetlefs lived alone in Prestbury, Pietermaritzburg home but for the last three years of her life, Mataula was employed as her gardener to help maintain her property.

In his plea, 35-Year-old Mataula confessed to what happened before and on the day of the murder. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of housebreaking, with intent to steal and theft.

On 05 December, a desperate Mataula who needed money to send to his granny and child back in Zimbabwe, decided to break into Deetlefs’ home and steal a TV set that he managed to sell for R500. However, this was not his last breach of Deetlefs’ trust.

Days later on 12 December Mataula says he came to the realisation that he needed money to spend during the festive season so once again went to Deetlefs’ house. Mataula detailed that she was not at home so he broke in but was only able to access one room so he stole towels and bedding that he sold for R600.

On the fateful day of 30 December, Mataula went to Deetlefs’ house with the intention to ask for taxi money. After getting tired of waiting for her to return home, Mataula broke in once again but this time he was in the house when Deetlefs returned home.

Mataula says he hid but Deetlefs spotted him and screamed. In his bid to “quieten” her he squeezed her neck but when he realised that she was still conscious, he strangled the 62-year-old to death. He stole money from her bag, a DVD player, speakers, a cellphone, a pair of shoes and other valuables before fleeing the scene.


During court proceedings, Senior State Advocate Mbongeni Mthembu submitted to the court a Victim Impact Statement from Deetlefs’ daughter with the assistance of Court Preparation Officer Thobekile Chuene.

In her statement, she said that she cannot get the images of the crime scene out of her head and that the entire family are receiving counselling following the death of her mother.

She described how she had a strong and close bond with her mother who she described as being incredibly loving. Deetlefs cared for her grandson and elderly parents, all of which were still in shock and grieving the huge loss they have suffered.


Mataula was arrested on 03 January, while working in the Hilton area. He confessed to the murder and cooperated with the police thereafter.

Following the trial proceedings, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment for each count of housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, 25 years imprisonment for murder and 15 years imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances. The sentences for the housebreaking will run concurrently with each other, while the murder and robbery charges will run concurrently.

Spokesperson for KZN’s National Prosecuting Authority, Natasha Kara, explained the concurrency of the charges results in the effective 30 years imprisonment.

She said the matter was finalised in consultation with Deetlefs’ family and the investigating officer, who accepted the plea and sentence agreement.

“Factors such as Mataula’s confession and compliance with the police, as well as the fact that he has no previous convictions or pending matters were taken into consideration during sentence proceedings, thus warranting a deviation from the minimum sentence of life imprisonment. The NPA welcomes the swift finalisation of this matter and hopes the sentence will alleviate the scourge of gender-based violence and femicide, and bring closure to the family.”

said Kara.

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