Teen trio jailed for 20 years after ‘orgy of violence’

2011-11-30 00:00

THREE juveniles were each sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment yesterday for their part in an “orgy of violence” during which they stabbed three men to death and attempted to murder two others in Mpophomeni, Howick.

They committed the murders while carrying out four armed robberies on the night of August 27.

The youths, aged 17, 15 and 16 years at the time, pleaded guilty to nine charges before KwaZulu Natal Judge President Chiman Patel in September.

Judge Patel said that when considering the appropriate sentences for the youths the court had to take into account constitutional considerations.

These stipulate that a child should be detained only for the shortest appropriate time.

Furthermore, in terms of the Child Justice Act, a court cannot impose a prison sentence in excess of 25 years on a juvenile.

“I hope that the three of you will apologise to the families of the deceased in this matter because all three of you will one day be able to come out from prison and return to society.

“But they have lost loved ones who can never return,” he admonished the accused during sentencing.

Murmurs of agreement rippled through the public gallery.

After sentence was passed the parents of two of the victims, Simphiwe Mnikathi (26) and Steven Madlala (34), said that although they are distraught over the deaths of their children, they are satisfied with the sentences passed on the killers.

“The court has explained that it is because of the age of the accused [that they were not given life sentences]” said Madlala’s father, M.G. Ntombela, who was with his wife, Nomusa.

Sibongile Mnikathi, mother of Simphiwe Mnikathi, tearfully nodded in agreement.

Judge Patel said social workers’ reports on the three accused showed that they seemed to be well-behaved before their crime spree.

However he said he decried in the “strongest language their consumption of alcohol” on the night in question.

The juveniles said in statements when they pleaded guilty that they had been drinking at KwaHaza.

It was then that they decided to go to Mpophomeni to “find victims that we could rob”.

Armed with knives, they walked along a footpath and came across their first victim, Muntu Shelembe, and robbed him of his cellphone.

When Wiseman Mkhize arrived on the scene and tried to help Shelembe they stabbed him to death and took his cellphone.

Shortly afterwards the trio encountered Nkululeko Nkabini, surrounded him and threatened him with knives while demanding his valuables.

After he had handed over his cellphone and charger to the group he started shouting for help from a nearby homestead and the accused fled.

On their way home they encountered four adult men whom they also attacked and “stabbed indiscriminately”.

Two of the men, Steven Madlala and Simphiwe Mnikathi, were killed and the other two, Dumisani Zondi and Mondli Ndlovu, fled.

The youths searched Madlala and Mnikathi as they lay wounded on the ground and removed a cellphone and tracksuit pants before fleeing.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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