A South African pastor, his wife and a hired hitman have all been found guilty of murdering a young woman for the life insurance policy they took out in her name without her knowledge.
Melisizwe Monqo, 32, pastor at the God’s Work International Ministries, his wife Siphosihle Pamba, 26, and hitman Phumlani Qhusheka were convicted at the Western Cape Division of the High Court of South Africa in Cape Town.
The defendants were found guilty of murdering Hlompo Mohapifor, 25, to cash in on the life insurance they registered in her name without her knowing.
They were also convicted of robbery with aggravating circumstances, kidnapping, illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, housebreaking to commit murder, conspiracy to kill Nomfundiso Booi, the attempted murder of Booi, and obstructing the course of justice, according to local media.
Meanwhile, the pastor and his wife were convicted separately on 13 counts of fraud.
The couple registered life insurance policies for a number of the pastor’s congregation behind their backs and planned to kill them to cash in, according to a statement by the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa (NPA).
The statement said they took out life insurance policies on behalf of Nomfundiso Booi, Anelisa Xhotyeni, Bulelwa Sihawu, and Hlompo, adding: “The four were unaware that such life policies were taken on their behalf and were not beneficiaries of such policies. In fact, they never called the insurance companies to make such arrangements. Pamba made the calls pretending to be them.”
The couple’s activities continued until 5th July 2018 when local fisherman Francois Gerber found Hlompo’s body on the side of a gravel road in Herolds Bay.
The NPA statement said the unemployed victim was told she had a job interview at George Airport. She called friends to borrow money for a taxi to attend the interview.
The NPA added: “Her boyfriend and brother accompanied her to the hiking spot at Thembalethu Bridge, George. She boarded a silver-grey sedan driven by Monqo with Qhusheka seated at the back.
“A few hours later, her lifeless body was found with seven stab wounds and a slit throat.”
Prosecutor Evadne Kortje said the couple tried to kill Booi several times, including one shooting incident at her home in Queenstown while in the company of her children and mother.
The pastor also attacked her with a knife while she was on her way home from work on 22nd June 2017, however, she survived the ordeal.
During the investigation, Sihawu and Xhotyeni discovered that insurance policies had been taken out in the names as well.
After being found guilty, the defendants are due to be sentenced on 15th November.