Outrage over brutal killer's lower sentence

2013-08-06 10:26

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Johannesburg - The family of a Johannesburg teenager who was strangled, suffocated and set alight in December last year have been left outraged by the lower sentence handed down to one of her killers.

The teenager’s brother-in-law, Jonathan Maharla, was given a 15-year jail term for killing 16-year-old Michaela Manneson, The Star reported on Tuesday.

He tried to strangle her, then his alleged accomplice George Barquala held a cloth doused in paint thinners over her nose. When that didn’t kill her, Maharla strangled her while Barquala held a plastic bag over her head.

Then they took her body to an industrial area in Eldorado Park, where they stacked tyres on top of her, poured thinners on the stack and lit it.

The sentence has outraged Manneson’s parents and women’s groups alike.

Ellen Manneson, Michaela’s mother, said she felt she had been coerced by the State prosecutor into signing the plea bargain who said their daughter’s killer “would be on the street like tomorrow” if they didn’t.

Maharla went into a plea bargain agreement with the State so that he would testify against Barquala, a Mozambican who has not been arrested and is believed to have fled to his home country.

Gender violence researcher, Lisa Vetten said there needed to be legal representation for victims’ families so that they would be satisfied with their decisions after signing a plea bargain.

Activist group People Opposing Women Abuse [Powa] were also unhappy with the sentence as it “says a woman and girl’s life is worth nothing as most probably, with good behaviour, the perpetrator will serve less than 15 years”.

After sentencing, as he made his way to the holding cells, Maharla stopped, looked Michaela’s father, in the eye and said: “Sorry, man.”

“Voetsek, man,” responded the teen’s dad.
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