Wait almost over for ex-Blue Bulls player

2014-12-17 21:54
Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana (Giordano Stolley, Sapa)

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Durban - Former Blue Bulls rugby player Phindile Joseph Ntshongwana will be sentenced by the KwaZulu-Natal High Court on Friday for hacking four people to death with an axe.

Judge Irfaan Khalil postponed sentence on Wednesday after hearing argument in mitigation from Ntshongwana's lawyer Themba Mjoli, and in aggravation from prosecutor Rea Mina.

In September Khalil convicted Ntshongwana on four counts of murder, two of attempted murder, one of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm, one of kidnapping, and one of rape.

Ntshongwana killed Thembelenkosini Cebekhulu in Montclair, Durban, on 20 March 2011, Paulos Hlongwa in Lamontville two days later, Simon Ngidi in Umbilo the following day, and an unidentified man some time that week in Yellow Wood Park.

All were hacked to death with an axe. Two of the victims were beheaded.

He also raped and kidnapped a woman. He was charged with attempted murder for attacking two men, one in Umlazi on 21 March 2011, and the other in Lamontville on 23 March.

Mjoli argued on Wednesday that his client needed "to be placed in an environment conducive for him to be rehabilitated, for him to receive treatment".

He said that unlike known serial killers, Ntshongwana had never shown any anti-social behaviour.

'Besieged by his mental condition'

He said the court had heard that his client's illness would never be cured, but could be managed.

Referring to the four murders, he said: "They happened at the climax of whatever happened to cause the accused to act in this particular way. It is clear the accused was besieged by his mental condition."

He said the murders happened within days of each other with no clear motive, although a motive was not needed for a conviction.

The assaults and kidnapping and rape of a woman, whom he held captive at his Yellow Wood home for a few days, preceded the murders, taking place in 2010.

Referring to the rape, Mjoli said while he would not want such an incident to happen to anyone, it did not meet the minimum threshold for a life sentence.

"She was not injured. She was fed while she was kept incarcerated by him in his room. It is not so as to amount to the most cruel of offences to justify the imposition of life [imprisonment]."

He urged the court to weigh up the imposition of a life sentence and whether Ntshongwana should be kept with hardened criminals. He said there was no doubt that Ntshongwana had a mental illness that needed treatment.

"It cannot be said that the accused should live with hardened criminals with the condition he is in," said Mjoli.

Calls for life imprisonment

Mina rejected this and called for life imprisonment. She pointed out that the court found Ntshongwana criminally sane at the time he committed the assaults, murders, and rape.

She urged the judge to remember the testimony of the rape victim that the rape was particularly traumatic.

"He made her lick yoghurt off his private parts," Mina said.

She said there was nothing put before the court that would amount to circumstances that could allow it to deviate from the minimum sentences.

"The only possible sentence that can be handed down is one of life imprisonment."

She said in the three years since Ntshongwana's arrest in 2012, he had shown no signs of violence.

If Ntshongwana could not fit in with the general prison population there was nothing stopping prison officials from placing him in isolation at the Kokstad C-Max prison.

Read more on:    phindile joseph ntshongwana  |  durban  |  crime

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