Couple bag jail sentence after plotting to kill their domestic assistant to get a huge insurance payout

Sunday, June 30, 2024 - An Eastern Cape couple and their three accomplices have received lengthy prison sentences for conspiring to murder an employee to claim funeral policy payouts.

The couple employed the victim, who lived on the same street in Lingelihle, Nxuba (formerly Cradock), in 2021.

In October 2022, the victim and her boyfriend were attacked in their home. Her boyfriend was fatally stabbed, while she was stabbed and raped but survived to testify against the assailants.

This week, the high court in Makhanda, sitting in Nxuba, sentenced Zizipho Pani, 34, her husband Siyathemba James, 39, their relative Sinethemba Pani, 34, and Sizwesethu Jonas, 34, to life imprisonment plus 15 years for their roles in the crimes. Masixole Sokoyi, 19, a minor at the time who raped the woman, received a 25-year prison sentence.

Judge Nozuko Mviko highlighted the importance of imposing deterrent sentences for crimes motivated by insurance payouts.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali revealed that Zizipho Pani orchestrated the scheme. She had taken out funeral policies with Standard Bank and Absa in 2021 that would pay R200,000 upon the victim's death. Pani promised the men R50,000 to kill the victim.

Despite being left for dead, the woman managed to crawl to neighbours who called for an ambulance. She was able to identify her attackers.

The perpetrators initially fled but were later taken to a native doctor in Cookhouse by Zizipho Pani and her husband. Community members intervened, requiring police to rescue them. They were subsequently arrested.

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