Parents weep in court as teen jewel thief gets 10 years

2011-11-23 00:00

THE parents of a 17-year-old youth, who admitted he broke into a flat and stole more than R1 million worth of gold jewellery on September 19, wept bitterly after a magistrate sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment at the Ekhuseni Youth Centre on Friday.

Four years of the sentence were conditionally suspended.

Wiping the tears from their eyes, the parents told The Witness they fully support the sentence and hope that it will reform their son, help kick his drug habit and remove him from the bad company he had been keeping.

The youth’s mother took her son to the police station after he confessed his involvement in the crimes to her.

Although her heart was breaking she knew she had done the right thing, her ex-husband said yesterday.

Regional magistrate Paul Ableman accepted the recommendations of a probation officer and correctional supervision officer that the youth be sentenced to a term of imprisonment at Ekhuseni, which has facilities for him to finish his schooling and learn a trade.

He said society would not accept his behaviour.

State prosecutor Pranisha Kasool said it was clear that the teenager had been “hanging with the wrong crowd” and the crimes were “masterminded” by his older friends.

However, he had been caught for a similar offence before and was diverted to Nicro to undergo various programmes but to no avail.

The reports revealed that the youth was “uncontrollable”, was expelled from school for smoking dagga and was addicted to a drug known on the street as “Roche”.

As submitted by his legal aid attorney S. Ngobeni, the youth and his accomplice “stumbled” accidentally on the cache of gold jewellery after breaking into the flat with the intention merely to steal a television set, which proved too big to fit through the window.

However Kasool said the complainant, Viji Padayachee, was traumatised by the loss of the jewellery which was not only worth over a million rand, but also had great sentimental value as it was jewellery that had been passed down through generations in her family.

Although the Nigerian who had since bought the jewellery has been arrested, the jewellery has not been recovered, said Kasool.

In his plea the youth said he thought he was “hallucinating” when he and an accomplice broke open a wardrobe in the flat and saw boxes filled with gold items.

He and his two co-perpetrators sold the jewellery to a Nigerian man who paid them R9 000 “on the spot” and R48 000 two days later, he said.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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