Couple get life for assassination

2011-08-25 14:36

The couple who masterminded the killing of former Free State mayor – Caroline Mogothu and her husband, James – have each been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Bloemfontein High Court today.

Judge President HM Musi said during sentencing that the killing of Motlatsi Motloi, who was gunned down in front of his house in Wepener on 3 May last year, could be classified as an assassination.

He said although the couple did not testify on mitigating circumstances, it was put on record that Caroline had played a prominent leadership role in the community.

She was treasurer of the same branch of which the deceased was the chairperson. Caroline is the mother of two boys – aged 21 and 12 years – and she was a first-time offender who had been in custody for more than a year.

Musi said James – 10 years younger than his wife – was also a first-time offender.

He said, on the other hand, it should be taken into account that this murder had been identified by Parliament as one deserving severe punishment.

The victim was a prominent politician and this type of crime has the potential to adversely affect democracy in this country. He said this was a high-profile case as was evident from the number of people attending it.

“This is something that can easily let the community take law into their own hands.” Musi then asked the couple to stand.

Caroline stood with her arms crossed over her chest and James stood with his hands on the bench in front of them. After the sentencing, those who packed the courtroom clapped.

Earlier today, Musi also ruled that the state’s key witness, Sabata Potele, is not exempt from prosecution. Potele, who was under state protection, testified that he was the initial link between the couple and the gunman, Senowe Khaka.

Khaka, a Lesotho resident, admitted that he had pulled the trigger and was sentenced to 21 years imprisonment.

It is now up to the National Prosecuting Authority to decide whether Potele would be charged or not.

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