20 years for 19-year-olds

2009-08-31 00:00

TWO 19-year-old youths who stabbed a pensioner to death after they had robbed him of R200, then immediately repented and handed themselves over to police, were each sentenced to an effective 20 years’ imprisonment by acting Judge Kobus Booyens in Pietermaritzburg on Friday.

Booyens told Bongani Sithole and Siyabonga Magwaza they can consider themselves lucky not to be facing life imprisonment, and said society should receive the message that attacks on “harmless old people will not be tolerated”.

Mbuso Langa, who was drawing a disability pension, was robbed and murdered at Maphumulo, between Kranskop and KwaDukuza, on December 9 last year, the day he drew his pension.

Sithole and Magwaza said they were drinking at Mtolo’s store when they saw Langa buying alcohol. They knew he had received his pension earlier that day and decided to rob him.

That night they went to Langa’s home, grabbed him, searched his pockets and removed two R100 notes.

They asked him for more money and he told them he had money at a place nearby.

The youths said Magwaza took a knife he found in Langa’s room and after telling Langa to be quiet they left with him.

In the yard he started shouting for help, and Magwaza stabbed him twice in the chest.

Sithole also stabbed him several times before the pair fled.

Booyens said it is unfortunate that young men like the accused get involved in crime. Having regard to probation officers’ reports, he said, he is satisfied that they are not the type who would normally commit crime and that they had acted irresponsibly.

He took into account their youthfulness, the fact that they were not armed nor intended to kill Langa when they went to his house, and that immediately after committing the crimes they realised they had done wrong and handed themselves to the police.

Even though they were on bail they came to court to face their punishment. Booyens said this showed that they were remorseful.

However, it was aggravating that the victim was a pensioner.

“It is unfortunately true in our community that the frail and aged are soft targets for criminals,” he said.

Booyens sentenced each of the accused to 10 years in prison for robbery and 20 years’ for murder, but ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

The youths must serve two- thirds of the term before being considered for parole.

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