Councillor's killers sentenced

By Drum Digital
17 July 2012

Former Rustenburg mayor Matthew Wolmarans was jailed for 20 years on Tuesday for the murder of whistle-blower councillor Moss Phakoe.

The Rustenburg High Court sentenced Wolmarans' former bodyguard Enoch Matshaba to life in prison.

Handing down sentence, Judge Ronnie Hendricks said the two had not shown remorse.

Addressing Matshaba, he said: "[R]egarding your personal circumstances, they are no reason for this court not to hand down the prescribed minimum sentence."

To Wolmarans he said: "Your wife was diagnosed with cancer and you have two children aged 10 and 13 that depend on you, and also you support your extended family."

Hendricks said Wolmarans master-minded the murder.

"The deceased was your rival. He challenged you on things he did not like. He accused you of corruption and that angered you."

Hendricks said because Wolmarans saw Phakoe as an opponent he plotted to kill him.

"You employed the service of accused one (Matshaba) to eliminate the deceased. You were clever enough not to do the killing yourself."

The judge said political tolerance was needed in a democratic country.

Matshaba was arrested on August 4, 2011 after eyewitness Freddy Mashele told the police in Bela Bela about the crime. Mashele saw Matshaba holding a gun at Phakoe's home just after he had heard two gunshots.

In his testimony to the court Mashele said he went to Phakoe's home to collect his girlfriend's pictures from a photographer who had rented a back room at Phakoe's home.

When he saw Matshaba with a gun, he forget about the photos and went to Brits, where he informed his friend about the incident. Then he went home to Giyani, Limpopo where he felt sick for a long period. Two years later he went to the Bela Bela police.

Wolmarans was arrested on September 24, 2011 together with Amos Mataboge and Oupa Mphomane. Charges against Mataboge and Mphomane were dropped.

Phakoe was shot dead at his home in Rustenburg Noord in March 2009, after he had handed over a dossier detailing corruption in the municipality to high-ranking ANC officials, including secretary general Gwede Mantashe and President Jacob Zuma.

Phakoe also handed the dossier to former co-operative governance minister Sicelo Shiceka, in the presence of Wolmarans.

Outside the court, public order police stopped supporters of Wolmarans when they ran towards the municipal offices after hearing of the sentence. They had emptied dustbins onto the streets. Shops near the court were closed.

Nelson Mandela Drive, which passes in front the court, was closed to traffic from Thabo Mbeki Drive, four blocks from the building.

Phakoe's supporters, dressed in red T-shirts, celebrated the sentencing by singing liberation songs outside the court.

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