Five life terms for Free State man who killed his girlfriend, four kids

Five life terms is what a Bloemfontein man was handed in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein this week after he killed his girlfriend and four children last year because he was angry she broke up with him.

After visiting his girlfriend's house in Thaba Nchu on March 3, 2017, Lehlohonolo "Terata" Joshua Tsiane, 32, was told that she did not love him anymore, provincial police spokesperson Constable Peter Kareli said on Wednesday.

He was furious because he had just bought her a cellphone. They got into a heated argument before he left and later returned with a canister of petrol.

Tsiane then poured petrol on the shack before setting it alight while his girlfriend Mmokgo Maria Sepagela, 24, and four children were inside.

Moleboheng Rethabile Sepagela, 8, Malehlohonolo Dimakatso Sepagela, 6, Rethabile Augustinah Ralebakeng, 9, and Obakeng Junior Ralebakeng, 8, died in the fire.

The girlfriend managed to escape while on fire, screaming for assistance.

"The accused, who was waiting outside, hit her with a steel rod on the head before running away," said Kareli.

She died later in hospital.

Tsiane was traced to Ladybrand and arrested after he broke into someone else's house.

Kareli said he pleaded guilty to all the charges and, besides the life terms, was sentenced to seven years in jail for the housebreaking.

Judge Martha Mbele said: "The cruelty expressed here is beyond reproachable; you did not have any regard for the lives in the shack. You knew that the children will not survive the blaze," she said.

"You had direct intention to kill everyone in the house. The law must send a message to those who are still thinking of doing such."

Provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Moeketsi Sempe congratulated the investigating team for their hard work.