Truter’s killers get 25 years

2010-03-26 00:00

EXACTLY two years after he was murdered in the course of a robbery at the Thistle Hotel, two of the killers of Pietermaritzburg’s oldest cystic fibrosis sufferer, Mark Truter (38), were yesterday jailed for 25 years each.

Truter suffocated to death after his face was tightly bound with duct tape, which covered his nose and mouth so tightly he was unable to breathe.

Sentencing Wiseman Vusumuzi Ndlovu (29) and Sphelele Peter Ngubo (28), high court Judge Isaac Madondo said that although there was no evidence to suggest that the accused had intended to kill Truter in the course of the robbery on the night of March 25, 2008, they must have foreseen that their conduct would result in his death, and they were reckless as to whether that occurred.

They must have realised that binding a person’s mouth and nose as they did could result in death, more particularly in the case of a person suffering from cystic fibrosis.

According to the evidence of Truter’s mother, Paulette, he added, even a person who was not ill would have died due to the tightness of the tape.

The assailants did not have a direct intention to kill Truter and the action that caused his death was not “an independent act” but was committed in the course of the robbery to prevent Truter raising the alarm, the judge found.

This amounted to compelling and substantial circumstances that justify a lesser sentence than the prescribed minimum of life imprisonment for the murder.

He said the fact that they are relatively young means that they can be rehabilitated and should be given that opportunity.

However, he added, the courts have to send a message that the type of offences that Ndlovu and Ngubo committed will not be tolerated.

He said both men had been gainfully employed when they perpetrated the robbery and were “not satisfied” with what they had.

“People must know that crime does not pay.

“If you live honestly … you may achieve your objectives. All good things come to those who wait for them,” he told the accused.

He said it is up to them to use the opportunity they now have to be rehabilitated and to emerge from jail as useful members of society.

Truter’s parents, John and Paulette (who owned the Thistle Hotel at the time of the incident), and their supporters at court welcomed the sentence.

The couple praised the work of investigating officer Inspector Alistair Farrington and state advocate Nqobile Maphelela in particular.

Paulette Truter said her only concern is that one of the perpetrators is still at large.

According to admissions made to police by Ndlovu and Ngubo — accepted into evidence — a third man, “Sihle”, also took part in the robbery. He allegedly guarded Truter after he was tied up.

Charges against him were dropped earlier due to lack of evidence.

Four suspects were initially charged in connection with the robbery and murder, but Snothi Ryder Ndlovu, who worked at the hotel, died in custody.

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