During the dramatic arguments, advocates for the Mvinjelwa and Ntombela families went head to head as they revealed the young mom had planned to leave her husband, Simthembile, the day before he allegedly shot and killed his family on 26 September.
Pumla, 33, and her daughters, Nhlanhla and Bajabulile, were found dead in their home in Bardale Village where cops found a suicide note written by Simthembile, 36, who also turned the gun on himself.
After a bitter burial dispute over which family would have the right to bury the daughters, Pumla’s father and brother lodged a High Court application calling for the courts to release the children to their maternal relatives, as according to Xhosa traditions, the children would normally be buried on their father’s homestead.
On Thursday the Mvinjelwas’ legal team stunned the court when they told Judge Nobahle Mangcu-Lockwood that despite being married for 10 years, the Ntombela family had never paid lobola in full.
They explained the negotiations fell through and Simthembile never came to Pumla’s family to ask for permission to wed her.
They admitted to getting a partial payment, but explained under Customary Law the cultural practices for the marriage were not completed as Pumla was never formally handed over to the Ntombela family.
But the Ntombelas’ legal team said this was never disputed before and likened the death of the family to a car accident.
“If the family were all in a car accident, the children would be buried by the Ntombela family and we wouldn’t be here. It is only because of the allegation that Mr. Ntombela is responsible for the deaths that we are here,” said advocate Anda Njeza.
While the judge ruled the decision had to be made under Civil Law and not Customary Law, Njeza still argued that, as the children had undergone an Imbeleko ceremony with the Ntombela family, they belonged to them.
The ceremony, which is conducted a few days after the birth of a Xhosa baby, includes removing the umbilical cord and introducing a child to its ancestors.
A goat is slaughtered as a sacrifice.
But angry mamas in the gallery expressed their disapproval saying this ceremony happened regardless of a customary marriage.
“I will give them a f*****g goat. Those children were slaughtered,” a woman was heard saying.
The Mvinjelwas’ legal team also revealed she had been abused during the 10 years of marriage and submitted WhatsApp messages between Pumla and her sister where she indicated she had viewed a house and was planning to move.
Mangcu-Lockwood ordered the Forensic Pathology Services to release the three bodies to Pumla’s family and the court erupted in loud cheers from the packed gallery which included representatives from Cosatu, the ANC Women’s League and the DA Women’s Network.
Sister Nondumiso says: “We are going to fetch their bodies tomorrow and we will make arrangements for the burials.
“They can finally rest in peace. Pumla’s case sets a precedent for all women who are being tormented by their in-laws under customary law who think they can rule because of a bladdy goat or cow.”