Man jailed for role in killing WWII pilot

2012-06-08 08:45

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Pretoria - A man was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday for his part in the violent murder and robbery of an elderly World War II fighter pilot.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius sentenced Albert Mothiba, 37, to a total of 28 years' imprisonment for murdering 89-year-old Monument Park pensioner Frans Swemmer and robbing him of his car, cellphone and household goods three years ago.

She ordered that he should serve 18 years of his sentence.

Swemmer, who survived World War II and the Korean War as a fighter pilot for the SA Air Force, was found in a pool of blood in his house after being dragged there from his garage.

Mothiba admitted guilt, but said he had been living on the street and was desperate for some form of income when he took part in the robbery, allegedly with David Maluleka.

He said they waited for Swemmer to return home, but kept watch outside when two fellow robbers went into the garage and attacked Swemmer with a hammer and a spanner.

Maluleka allegedly stabbed Swemmer twice in the chest when he was invited inside.

He also helped to drag the elderly man into the house and drove away from the scene in his car.

Schizophrenic

Pretorius said Mothiba had not been the main perpetrator of the murder and the State could not prove that it had been premeditated.

"Mothiba had grown up under harsh circumstances. His father had physically abused him so badly that he still had visible scars on his back," Pretorius said.

Mothiba dropped out of school early because of mental challenges and was diagnosed as being schizophrenic in 1993.

These circumstances had made the emotionally immature Mothiba more prone to participation in these horrendous crimes.

"He is uneducated, unemployed, suffers from a mental illness and has little or no support from his family.

"He is a person who led a sad and lonely life," she said.

Pretorius said Swemmer was an elderly man who had lived alone. He died in a brutal attack with blows all over his body while his hands and feet were tied together.

She found that there were reasons justifying a lesser sentence in Mothiba's personal circumstances, his plea of guilt and expression of remorse, and that he was not the person who killed Swemmer.

The fact that he had spent more than two-and-a-half years in jail awaiting trial, through no fault of his own, was in itself a mitigating factor.

Mothiba was also prepared to testify against Maluleka, who has pleaded not guilty and who goes on trial in September.

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