Howick Falls robbers jailed for 13 and 14 years

2009-02-10 00:00

Two men who took part in a robbery with aggravating circumstances of a group of picnickers at Howick Falls on July 15, 2007, were jailed for 13 and 14 years respectively by high court Judge Leona Theron in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

The younger of the two, Thabani Ndlovu (who was given the lower sentence), was 20 when he participated in the offence, and his co-accused, Nkosinathi Mjiyako, was 22.

They were found guilty last week of one count of robbery and acquitted of two other charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances, one of incitement to rape, one of indecent assault and one of rape.

A former co-accused, Siyabonga Dalas Cele, pleaded guilty to all six charges in a separate court and was jailed effectively for 35 years.

Passing sentence yesterday on Ndlovu and Mjiyako, Judge Theron said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case.

One was the fact that it was clear from the evidence of one of the victims, a young woman who was also sexually assaulted (by Cele), that she had been emotionally scarred by the incident, the judge said.

The fact that a firearm was used and the victims were forced into submission at gunpoint, the fact that the accused operated as a gang and that they were motivated solely by greed, were also aggravating features.

"Unfortunately, violent crimes are all too prevalent in our society.

"As shown by this case, it is not safe to go picnicking alongside the falls anymore," the judge said.

She said mitigating factors were that both the accused were first offenders, were fairly youthful, had spent almost two years in custody awaiting trial and that Ndlovu had said via his lawyer that he is remorseful.

"You also had the good sense not to participate in the sexual offences perpetrated on the complainants, and it appears that the former accused three - Siyabonga Dalas Cele - was the ringleader in your escapades," Judge Theron told the two accused.

She said that for these reasons she found there were compelling and substantial circumstances that allowed her to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years' imprisonment laid down by Parliament for the crime of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

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