Guard’s life sentence cut on appeal

2010-05-05 00:00

A FULL bench of the high court in Pietermaritzburg upheld an appeal by former Cato Ridge security guard Sydney Makhaya against his life sentence for the murder of a Cato Ridge hotel’s night manager, Willem Gunter, in 2000.

Gunter was shot four times while closing the hotel on September 27, 2000, and died in hospital on November 1, 2000.

Retired KwaZulu-Natal judge president Vuka Tshabalala, with Judge Esther Steyn and Acting Judge Nkosinathi Chili agreeing, reduced Makhaya’s sentence to one of 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder in a reserved judgment handed down yesterday.

According to evidence at his trial, Makhaya had fallen asleep while on duty one night and slept through a burglary at the hotel. He was dismissed by Gunter’s wife and a Mrs Roux.

Trial Judge Ron McLaren accepted a statement made in hospital by Gunter to the investigating officer stating that Makhaya started shooting at him on the night in question without any warning. He also found that the murder was premeditated, that Makhaya telephoned the hotel earlier that day to inquire if there was a security guard on duty and whether Gunter would be on duty in the bar.

He arrived at the hotel late at night armed with a loaded gun and shot Gunter when there was nobody else around.

Upholding Makhaya’s appeal, the full bench ruled that there were mitigating factors, including the fact that Makhaya was aggrieved by his dismissal, that he was young (24) at the time and was a first-time offender who could be rehabilitated.

Judge Tshabalala also emphasised that Makhaya showed no propensity to commit violent crime before the incident.

“Given the circumstances of this case, it is unlikely that he will commit such a crime in future. The trial court should have looked at the totality of the appellant’s behaviour,” he said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.