Killer escapes life term

2012-09-08 00:00

FAMILY and friends of South African polo star Sibusiso Duma (25) expressed bitter disappointment yesterday that his killer had escaped a life sentence.

“The sentence is much too light,” his sister, Sthembile Duma, said after high court Judge Kevin Swain sentenced Sibongiseni Mchunu to an effective 18 years’ imprisonment.

The court sentenced Mchunu to 15 years’ imprisonment for Duma’s murder and to three years for attempted murder of Mchunu’s girlfriend, Smangele Sondeza.

Duma’s mentor, Dieter Rowe-Setz, who managed Duma’s polo career, was overseas on business yesterday. However, he told Weekend Witness ahead of the sentencing that he hoped a life sentence would be imposed for the “senseless murder”.

Sondeza, whose affection for Duma was found to have sparked both crimes, was not at court.

Judge Swain described the case as “most tragic”.

He said Mchunu was fuelled by jealousy and anger at finding “love messages” on his girlfriend’s cellphone when he stabbed her and then sought out and murdered Duma.

The judge said the fact that Sondeza survived Mchunu’s attack was attributable solely to the fact that she had managed to escape from him.

Mchunu then set out with the intention to find and murder Duma.

According to the evidence he approached Duma from behind, and without saying a word, plunged a knife into the left side of his chest.

He continued to stab Duma while he was on the ground.

The post-mortem showed Duma sustained four stab wounds to his chest and one to his face.

Judge Swain said the fact that Mchunu had clearly acted out of anger and a sense of betrayal over Sondeza’s affection for Duma reduced his moral blameworthiness for the crimes. Taken together with his age, this was sufficient to justify a sentence of less than the prescribed minimum of life imprisonment.

A STATEMENT by Duma’s mentor, Dieter Rowe-Setz, described Duma as a “deeply loved protegé, polo colleague and Dargle community member” as well as the breadwinner of his family and father of a three-year-old daughter.

He said that wherever Duma played polo — including Nigeria, Kenya, Egypt, Ghana, England, Spain, Monaco, France, Argentina and Malaysia — he had “quickly became the hero of the crowds”.

He was on the winning team in 25 of 33 tournaments he played in and was named “most valuable player” 23 times.

“Sbu was a very talented polo player whose polo career was about to take off after years of preparation in 2012. He was booked and paid for to go to England for five months to be coached by one of the best coaches in polo in the world, in a sponsorship worth over R400 000”.

Rowe-Setz said this would have resulted in a position on the international polo circuit within two years and earnings exceeding R600 000 a year.

“Sbu was not an extravagant person and supported his family for the past four years financially ... Sbu has never shown aggression towards any animal or person. When provoked Sbu rather walks away ... He was like a big brother to my daughters from when they were young girls.”

Testament to a ‘deeply loved protegé’ and hero to many

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