Rogue pastor sentenced to life imprisonment for murder

Pastor of Jesus Christ Grace Ministries and businessman in Kuranta village in Bolobedu, Limpopo has been sentenced to life imprisonment for murder by the Polokwane High Court.

Ngwako Elvis Selowa-Makhotoka, 31, was sentenced on Thursday. He is expected to serve a further five years imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm. An additional  two years imprisonment for possession of ammunition. One year imprisonment for attempting to defeat the administration of justice.

According to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in 2021, Selowa-Makhotoka and his friend devised an unholy plan when they pretended that their vehicle had broken down and required assistance.

Deceased lured to her death

Two people, Lethube Masie and her companion, were on their way home from Shikiming village in Limpopo. They saw the pastor by the side of the road.

The NPA said Masie and the pastor knew each other. Therefore, Masie stopped and alighted the vehicle to see if Selowa-Makhotoka needed assistance.

The pastor shot at Masie about five times before he and his friend fled the scene. The deceased was rushed to the hospital, where she succumbed to the injuries.

Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi, NPA spokesperson in Limpopo, said the pastor attempted to conceal his actions. He ordered his friend to mislead the authorities about the identity of the person who shot the deceased. The pastor also ordered his friend to clean up the deceased’s vehicle with methylated spirit. This was to remove any fingerprints or gun residue.

“The friend of the accused was later turned into a Section 204 state witness. During the trial, the court heard that the pastor and his friend went to the tavern to buy some beers.

“On their return to the pastor’s home, the pastor told his friend that he had a job to do and he was armed with a firearm. He stopped his vehicle, alighted and pretended that their car had a mechanical failure. He knew that the deceased would soon be driving along the same road,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

Contract killings a worrying trend

Before the sentencing, state advocate Muneiwa Ratshibvumo expressed concern about  contract killing. She said this had become prevalent in communities, and harsh sentences were warranted.

She contended that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances justifying deviation from the minimum sentence. This in order to convey a clear message to other potential criminals.

When passing sentence, Judge Maake Francis Kganyago remarked that the deceased was murdered by someone she trusted.

The court further stated that the pastor was a wicked man who hides behind a pulpit. The murder of the deceased was carefully planned and carried out.

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