Man gets 25 years for armed holdup in Kranskop

2010-07-26 00:00

A MAN who took part in an armed holdup at KwaSiyabonga Butchery and Fresh Produce — which also serves as a pension payout point — in Kranskop on July 2, has been jailed for an effective 25 years by Acting High Court Judge Z.P. Nkosi for the role he played.

Five people, including a four-year-old boy, were wounded during a gun battle that erupted in the street outside the store when civilians confronted members of the gang.

When pleading guilty last week, Khulekani Ntshalintshali said he had been among the robbers who were inside the shop busy robbing the cash tills when they heard the gunfire and fled.

He said he had “fired some shots in the air” outside before escaping with his accomplices. The gang had not waited to ascertain if any bystanders were injured, he said.

The judge took into account in favour of Ntshalintshali that he had pleaded guilty, was a first offender and that he had not aimed any gunshots at the victims directly.

“In your own words you saw the possibility of by­standers being injured or killed as a result of your actions, and despite that you persisted in participating in the robbery,” the judge said.

He said he was told that the victims were out of danger, which was fortunate for Ntshalintshali.

Another factor in his favour was that he was young and had good prospects of being rehabilitated.

He had shown remorse from the time of his arrest by co-operating with police and indicated that he would co-operate further to ensure that his partners in crime too paid for their “obnoxious conduct”.

The judge said it was aggravating that ­Ntshalintshali and the other gang members put the lives of innocent civilians in danger, and said the gunshot victims would also “no doubt carry the scars” of the traumatic event for the rest of their lives.

He added that Ntshalintshali’s decision to join in the robbery was not due to some error of judgment and said he’d had time to reflect. The fact that he was unemployed at the time may have made him vulnerable to the suggestion by his friend that he should participate, but there was no evidence he had been “at his wits’ end” as he had seemed to be able to make a living from temporary jobs after leaving school.

The court did not want to send a message that “crime was worth the candle” if one was destitute.

The judge said the crime of robbery is prevalent in KwaZulu Natal, particularly at pension pay points in the province, which has vast rural areas that are vulnerable.

A clear message has to be sent that courts would not “be seen to be pussy-footing around” when dealing with this type of offence.

“Your personal circumstances and need for rehabilitation must yield to the need to deal severely with crimes of this magnitude,” Nkosi told him.

The court sentenced Ntshalintshali to 15 years’ imprisonment for the five attempted murder charges and to another 15 years’ imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances

He ordered that five years of the jail terms should run concurrently.

The judge ruled that Ntshalintshali must serve 15 years in custody before he can be considered for release on parole.

He was also deemed unfit to possess a firearm.

 

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