On Thursday 11 May 2017, South Gauteng High Court Judge Mohamed Ismail sentenced former ANCYL official Patrick Wisani to 20 years in prison for the murder of 24-year old Nosipho Mandleleni. Wisani was also handed one year each for intimidation and assault. The sentence will run concurrently.
On the night of Saturday, September 5, 2015, Wisani beat his then girlfriend to death with a sjambok and a broomstick in Yeoville, Johannesburg. At the time, he was the ANC Youth League Chairperson for the Johannesburg Inner City and a member of the Yeoville community policing forum.
Testimony given by a forensic pathologist during the 14-month trial explained that Nosipho had died of exsanguination, meaning that she bleed to death as a result of her severe injuries. Judge Ismail had previously commented that Wisani’s attack on Nosipho was so malicious, that he had “beat her like a master would a slave.”
In November 2016, Wisani was found guilty of assault and intimidation of state witnesses after he attempted to deter Nosipho’s twin sister, Siphokazi, and her friend, Zimbini Mathibe, from giving evidence. The court revoked his R3000 bail.
In April 2017 during aggravation and mitigation of sentencing, prosecutor Faghre Mohamed asked Wisani, who was under cross-examination, whether or not he was remorseful for his violent actions. Wisani, who maintained his innocence, replied that he did not understand what “remorseful meant” adding: “The court should apply its mind to my sentence, they need to be reasonably lenient toward me and have mercy.”
When asked what his views on domestic violence were, Wisani said: “The ANC taught me from a young age that women should not be abused.”
The trial, which endured a number of postponements, was closely monitored by civil society including Sonke Gender Justice, Awethu!, Peace and Justice, Lawyers for Human Rights, People Opposing Women Abuse, and the Inner City Women’s Forum.
The judge initially appointed to preside over the case proved himself incapable of the task at hand. He was unable to remember basic facts of the case, often referring to the accused as the defendant. Only when the defence attorney and the prosecutor threatened to petition the judge to recuse himself, did the judge step down.
The close monitoring of the court case by Sonke and other civil society members has helped ensure Wisani’s conviction and that Siphokazi’s family have received some measure of justice.
We reiterate our condolences to Nosipho’s family for whom a 20 year prison sentence is little consolation for their loss.
Directly after sentencing, Nosipho’s twin sister Siphokazi said she would not be able to get closure without knowing her sister’s last words: “I’m not happy with Patrick Wisani’s 20 years sentence. He should have rotted in jail for life.”
Nonhlanhla Skosana, Community Education and Mobilisation Manager, Gauteng said: “ We would have wanted a harsher sentence for such a despicable crime, however we hope that the 20 year sentence sends a clear deterrent message that violence against women will not be tolerated, no matter who the perpetrator is and no matter what their connections to police and government officials.”
Wisani’s conviction demonstrates that concerted community action can expedite justice for survivors of violence and the families struggling with grief in the wake of domestic and sexual violence homicide.
Wisani is one of tens of thousands of men who have perpetrated violence against women in South Africa in the last year. To deal with this crisis of violence will require a concerted effort by government at all levels to address the causes of domestic and sexual violence.
For this reason, Sonke has been calling on government to develop and implement a fully costed national plan that provides vital services to survivors, holds perpetrators to account and prevents violence before it happens.
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