Emmanuel Sithole's killers jailed

2016-02-01 20:30


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Johannesburg  After a widely publicised trial that stretched over a nine-month period, magistrate Lucas van der Schyff finally handed down sentence to the killers of Mozambican national, Emmanuel Sithole, in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court on Monday. 

The magistrate relayed the moments before Sithole breathed his last in the streets of Alexandra where he was fatally stabbed. 

"This specific murder trial caught the entire country's attention because it was caught on camera. We were forced to witness this gruesome attack. By looking at the photos we were forced to share his pain, as he laid in the mud begging for mercy," Van der Schyff said.

He added that Sithole's murder was both senseless and unnecessary but overruled the state prosecutor's move to paint the attack as premeditated, saying the three accused didn't chase Sithole and did not attack him simultaneously.

Van der Schyff then explained the mitigating factors presented to the court on Friday last week.

He said accused number one, Mthinta Bhengu, was 19 at the time of the attack, wasn't married but was a father. This was the second violent crime he had committed.

Drug and alcohol problem

The court heard how the probation officer's report highlighted Bhengu's temper, drug and alcohol problem. The magistrate however, dismissed these, saying none of them were admissible.

"It can be seen in the photos that accused one had time to cool down but didn't take [the time]. He says he is remorseful but it is clear that he isn't," said Van der Schyff, adding that many accused persons might regret their actions but this didn't necessarily mean they felt remorse.

Turning to accused number three, the minor, he said although not charged with murder, it was shocking that such a young person was found taking part in such a gruesome murder.

"From the reports, it's clear that he started drinking when he was 14-years-old. He also stayed in a hostel because there was no space at his mother's house. Understanding the problems that come from staying in a hostel, it is not surprising how he turned out," he said.

The magistrate quickly moved to Sifundo Mzimela's brief, saying he had a similar background to the rest: unemployed, young and with no dependents.

Apologised to Sithole family

He said Mzimela hadn't delivered the killing blow, that he had kicked the deceased but hadn't assaulted him with the monkey wrench he was holding, even when he had had the chance.

"He asked his mother to apologise to the Sithole family on his behalf, and his mother also did the same," said Van der Schyff.

In delivering the sentence, Van Der Schyff said in the case of Bhengu, “a person like him should be removed from society". He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

Regarding accused number four, Mzimela, there was compelling evidence that he hadn't intended killing Sithole. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Accused number three, the minor who may not be named, was given a suspended sentence until February 2021. He will be supervised by a social worker and will undergo programmes.

The news of the sentencing was welcomed by African Diaspora Forum spokesperson Marc Gbaffou, who said it would send a stern message to those who thought the lives of foreign nationals were worth nothing.

Read more on:    emmanuel sithole  |  johannesburg  |  crime

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