Rogue security guard gets life

2013-06-04 21:29

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Johannesburg - A security guard who shot a woman, then threw her down a drain pipe, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Jimmy Mahlaba, 26, was found guilty of murdering and robbing Denise Stratford, 55, of her car. He had worked at the Mooikloof office park, east of Pretoria, where she was an office manager.

Stratford drowned after being shot three times, dragged a considerable distance, and then thrown down a drain in November 2011.

Judge Nico Coetzee sentenced Mahlaba to life imprisonment on the murder charge and to 20 years' for the armed robbery.

Stratford's sons Brandon, 29, and Duane, 32, wept when their father Trevor Stratford testified about how his murder had devastated them and his grandchildren, who had had to go for psychological counselling.

He said his 90-year-old father-in-law had died just a few months later.

Stratford described his wife as a compassionate and fun person, whose children and grandchildren were her life.

Asked if he could forgive Mahlaba, Stratford said he believed in an 'eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth' for a person who had committed such a horrendous and horrible crime.

Mahlaba was found with Stratford's car, and with splatters of her blood on his shoes and clothes.

He had used his personal firearm to shoot her.


He admitted taking his firearm to work that night, but claimed his colleague Obed Chauke had used it to kill Stratford while he was asleep.

He said the blood on his clothes must have been smeared on when he and Chauke exchanged raincoats.

He claimed Chauke had asked him to take the car home.

Mahlaba accused the police of torturing him, and of forcing him to point out the murder scene.

Coetzee rejected Mahlaba's evidence as not reasonably possibly true.

He said the murder was well-planned, and particularly brutal and heinous.

It was clear Stratford's sons had not yet come to terms with what had happened to the family, he said.

"They lost forever a loving and caring mother. She did the accused no harm.

"He killed her because he was greedy. Greed was the motive. Members of the community expect courts to impose harsh sentences on persons who commit such heinous crimes."

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