Ex-hotel employee gets life

2010-04-08 00:00

FORMER Wartburgerhof Hotel employee Muntukayise Ronald Ngubane (35) was sentenced to life imprisonment yesterday for the murders of his former employers, Ingrid (65) and Siegfried (68) Schadle, and to 15 years’ imprisonment for attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The couple were gunned down inside the hotel on the night of November 7, 2007, by a robber gang brought there at Ngubane’s instigation because, he admitted, they represented an “easy target”.

Evidence was led that he was fired earlier that year after being accused of stealing meat, but he maintained that he resigned.

Chris Schadle told the court that his parents had sold the hotel and, on the night they were killed, they had been planning to leave for a holiday, the next day.

Imposing sentence on Ngubane yesterday, high court Judge Kate Pillay said the Schadles had been callously deprived of their retired life together.

“It is easy for the accused to express remorse now. Nothing he can say or do can bring the Schadles back to life,” she said.

Pillay said she had given earnest consideration to submissions by Ngubane’s lawyer, Kelvin Singh, who urged the court to find compelling and substantial circumstances justifying less than life imprisonment for the murders.

He said Ngubane was a first-time offender in his thirties, that he did not have a direct intention to kill the couple, that he was not the person who had pulled the trigger, and that he had co-operated with the police after they had contacted him in connection with the case a week after the murders.

Pillay said the court had to measure the seriousness of the offences and their impact on society against these factors.

She said Ngubane had planned the robbery with “careful and meticulous detail”; he knew the victims were easy targets and it had been at his request that at least one firearm was carried into the robbery.He had tried to distance himself from knowledge of a second gun, but his version had been found to be devoid of truth.

“It was at the accused’s instance that the whole machinery was set in motion that led to the death of these defenceless people. They were killed for no apparent reason,” she said.

Pillay said the court could not lose sight of the fact that it was Ngubane who set the chain in motion that resulted in the murders and that the killings were forseeable.

“Violent crimes, despite robust sentences, have not abated. A sense of lawlessness pervades the country,” the judge said.

She said she is in agreement with other judges that, given the current levels of violence, the emphasis when sentencing should be on retribution.

Society is “fed up” with these types of crimes and not a day goes by when the courts do not hear of somebody who was killed or seriously injured as a result of robberies.

“There is absolutely no respect for law and order in this country and it is sad that we have to constantly live in fear.”

Taking everything into account, she said she velieves there are no circumstances that would justify less than the minimum prescribed sentences for Ngubane’s crimes.

However, she granted him leave to appeal against both his convictions and sentences in the hope that another court may come to different conclusions.

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