Building-hijacking attorney in leniency plea

2017-10-01 06:00
Sinethemba Mkhumbuzi and his co-accused, attorney Kenneth Ntila (left). Picture: Phuti Mathobela

Sinethemba Mkhumbuzi and his co-accused, attorney Kenneth Ntila (left). Picture: Phuti Mathobela

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An attorney convicted last month for attempting to hijack a Johannesburg building begged the court not to send him to jail, saying he was responsible for the upkeep of his 19 children and three grandchildren.

Regional Magistrate Takalani Vincent Ratshibvumo found Sinethemba Mkhumbuzi and his co-accused, attorney Kenneth Ntila, guilty last month on a charge of fraud.

During August 2006 to November 2007, they had unlawfully, falsely and with the intent to defraud, pretended to William Mailula and/or the Trust for Urban Housing Finance (TUHF) that a block of flats in Johannesburg, known as Angus Mansions, was for sale and that they were authorised to sell it for about R3m.

Ntila told the magistrate on Friday in mitigation of sentence that he was the only adult at home and had no parents to assist him with the children, should the court consider sending him to jail.

He urged the magistrate not to give him “a harsh sentence” because of his home responsibilities.

He also argued that fraud was not a violent crime and therefore he did not deserve a heavy sentence with imprisonment, saying the court should at least consider placing him under house arrest should it consider curtailing his freedom as part of his punishment.

He said he had a fixed property in Mthatha where such restrictions could be implemented.

Ntila explained that his ex-wife (who was not named) was unemployed and living at her parent’s home in Lady Frere, in the Eastern Cape.

The situation, therefore, made him “the only one with the capacity to take care of the children”.

Magistrate Ratshibvumo ordered that social work services be requested to look into the matter and also find places of safety for the children in case he was given a harsh sentence that included incarceration.

Ntila was a practising attorney at the time of his arrest.

It was also stated in court that his co-accused Mkhumbuzi was already serving four years in jail for a previous conviction for various charges.

In his judgment last month, Magistrate Ratshibvumo found that the accused were never appointed or elected to serve as directors of Philani-Ma Afrika and therefore had no authority to facilitate the sale of the building.

The inclusion of their details in the Cipro report was a manipulative act that they engaged in to be able to sell the property and pocket the proceeds.

The court also found that the accused knew that their conduct was a misrepresentation meant to defraud Philani-Ma Afrika, TUHF, Mailula and/or the Gauteng department of housing.

The accused also knew that Philani-Ma Afrika not only did not give consent for the sale of the property but was also opposed to it once they learnt of said sale.

The case was postponed to November 23 for sentencing.

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