Man jailed for killing 6-year-old girl in fire
Published 10/11/2011 | 12:30
A South African man was jailed for life today after being found guilty of murdering a six-year-old girl by setting fire to her family's home.
A judge said "wicked and jealous" George Sithole, 41, would serve a minimum of 17 years behind bars for killing Dumo Sibanda.
He started the blaze which killed Dumo after being upset that his relationship with a friend of her family had ended.
In the hours and weeks before the fire, he accused Siphenphile Mercy Mlalazi, known as Mercy, of cheating on him and bombarded her with calls and text messages.
After buying petrol and matches, he went straight to the semi-detached house in West Sussex, where Ms Mlalazi was staying with Dumo's family.
Within minutes flames engulfed the house, forcing Ms Mlalazi and her friend Donald Sibanda to jump out of their separate bedroom windows at the front.
But Mr Sibanda's daughter, Dumo, whose bedroom was at the back of the property, died despite efforts by paramedics to resuscitate her.
Sithole denied starting the fire but jurors convicted him of murder today after more than two hours of deliberation at Lewes Crown Court.
Sentencing him, Judge Richard Brown described Sithole's account of events as "appalling nonsense" as he paid tribute to Dumo's family for their dignity throughout the trial.
The judge told Sithole: "I don't think I have ever heard such a pathetic attempt by a defendant to lie their way out of responsibility.
"Your wicked, jealous and criminal behaviour in 2004 cost little Dumo her life and has destroyed the lives of her parents and her family.
"You have shown absolutely no remorse for your actions. I have no doubt that when you bought the petrol and matches your plan was to kill Mercy and you knew that you were putting other lives at risk."