Widow’s killer gets life plus 15 years

2013-05-20 00:00

THE killer of Pietermaritzburg widow Venotha Ince (51) was sentenced to life plus 15 years in prison on Friday. This was despite his last-minute change of heart and apology to the high court in Pietermaritzburg and to Ince’s family for his actions.

Acting Judge Piet Bezuidenhout said the fact that Sikhumbuzo Mkhize (33) admitted his guilt at such a late stage appeared to indicate regret rather than remorse.

He was unable to find that the cumulative effect of mitigating factors presented by Mkhize’s attorney, Ishi Khan, were compelling and substantial enough to warrant less than the prescribed minimum sentences.

These were that Mkhize was a first offender, was employed as a carpenter for 11 years and proved to be a “trustworthy” employee, and that he had ultimately “come clean” over his crimes and showed he is capable of rehabilitation.

The court was also told he is the father of five children.

Bezuidenhout said Ince’s murder and robbery was a” brutal and callous attack on a defenceless lady”, and it was premeditated.

She was stabbed 13 times.

The assailants knew that she lived alone and had gone to her home in Egret Road that day on the pretext that they were coming to work.

She had opened the gate for them because she knew them since they had done work there before. They breached the trust she had in them by attacking her.

Mkhize and a companion identified as Themba held her legs, while a third man, Rasta, stabbed her.

“This all happened in her home, a place where people want to feel safe,” the Judge said.

He said Mkhize had been working as a carpenter for 11 years and was not destitute. He had acted out of greed, hoping for a share in the spoils of the robbery.

Bezuidenhout said that considering all these factors, he did not believe the prescribed sentences of life imprisonment for the murder and 15 years’ imprisonment for robbery were disproportionate to the crimes. He ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

Ince’s sister, Radha Pillay, who was supported at court by her husband, Jay, said the family finally had closure; justice had been done and they knew exactly how her sister died. She thanked the investigating officer, Warrant Officer Ashok Baldowu, his team, and state advocate Humphrey Ngcobo for ensuring that justice was served.

Mountain Rise station commander Brigadier Francis Bantham said she was “extremely proud” of her team members for the work they had done in the case.

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