‘Evil man’: Court sentences pastor who shot and killed woman who had stopped to help him



Published May 30, 2024


A 31-year-old man, Ngwako Elvis Selowa-Makhotoka, a Limpopo-based businessman and a pastor of Jesus Christ Grace Ministries in Kuranta village in Bolobedu, has been sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in Polokwane after he was found guilty of the gruesome murder.

Limpopo spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi said Selowa-Makhotoka was facing charges of murder, illegal possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition and attempt to defeat the administration of justice.

“It is alleged that on August 7, 2021, Thabiso Lethube Masie, who is now deceased, and her friend were driving back home from Shikiming village in Limpopo when they came across the accused (Selowa-Makhotoka) and his friend,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

She said Selowa-Makhotoka and his friend, who turned State witness, pretending that their vehicle had broken down and needed assistance.

Pastor Ngwako Elvis Selowa-Makhotoka was sentenced to life imprisonment for the brutal murder of Thabiso Lethube Masie after she stopped her car to assist him. Picture: NPA

Masie and the pastor, according to the NPA, were well-known to each other.

Masie then stopped her car and alighted, in her bid to establish what was the problem affecting the pastor and his friend.

“That is when the accused (Selowa-Makhotoka) shot her five times. After shooting the woman, the accused fled the scene. In an attempt to conceal his deeds, the accused instructed his friend to mislead the police about the identity of the person who shot the (Masie) and to clean up her vehicle, to eliminate possible fingerprints and gun residue, using methylated spirit,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

Limpopo spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), Mashudu Malabi-Dzhangi. Picture: Supplied

Pastor Selowa-Makhotoka’s friend who was with him during the incident later 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 (Selowa-Makhotoka) had a job to do and he was armed with a firearm. He stopped his motor vehicle, alighted and pretended that their car had a mechanical failure, whereas the pastor knew that the deceased will soon be driving along the same road,” according to the NPA.

“Indeed, the deceased and her friend emerged, driving and not knowing that the accused was waiting for them. The deceased stopped her car to find out if the accused is not encountering any challenges with his car so that she can assist him. She then alighted from her car and suddenly the accused shot her several times.”

The injured woman was rushed to hospital where she succumbed to her injuries.

The pastor was on the run for two months after the horrific incident, until he was arrested at a filling station near Polokwane.

In aggravation of sentence, State advocate Muneiwa Ratshibvumo argued that contract killings have become prevalent in South African communities, and harsh sentences were warranted.

She further argued that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances warranting a deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence for the heinous crimes, in order to send a clear message to would-be criminals.

Judge Maake Francis Kganyago, in sentencing the pastor, stated that the deceased woman was killed by a person whom she trusted.

“The court further remarked that the accused (pastor) was an evil man who hides behind a pulpit, a wolf who disguised himself in a sheep skin. The murder of the deceased was carefully planned and executed. The accused did not show any remorse.

“The court also said that although the accused was 29-years-of-age during the commission of the offence, there was no evidence to show that his youthfulness played any role in the commission of the offence,” Malabi-Dzhangi narrated.

Ultimately, the man of the cloth was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment for murder; five years direct imprisonment for illegal possession of a firearm; two years direct imprisonment for possession of ammunition; and one-year direct imprisonment for attempting to defeat the administration of justice.

“The sentences in counts two to four were ordered to run concurrently with the sentence in count one of murder, and the effective sentence is life imprisonment,” said Malabi-Dzhangi.

Meanwhile, the Director of Public Prosecutions in Limpopo, advocate Ivy Thenga has welcomed the sentence, adding that she hopes that the sentence will send a clear message to other criminals who prey on the vulnerable members of society.

Provincial director of public prosecutions in Limpopo, advocate Ivy Thenga has saluted the prosecution team and the police investigating officers for a thorough probe. Picture: NPA

Thenga has congratulated the prosecutor, Ratshibvumo and the investigating officer Eric Mathebula, based at Mokwakwaila police station.