Man gets 12 years for farm robbery

2010-07-07 00:00

ONE of three men who took part in an armed robbery at the farm of Francis (76) and Gillian (75) Howard at Waterford farm in Richmond on November 30, 2009, was yesterday sentenced to 12 years’ jail.

He was sentenced after pleading guilty in the high court in Pietermaritzburg to a charge of housebreaking with intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Judge Achmat Jappie said he had no doubt that if the Howards had not locked themselves into their bedroom and avoided a confrontation while the intruders ransacked their home and prepared a meal in their kitchen, they would have been severely harmed.

The robber, Sibonelo Zungu (25) of the Richmond area, described in a statement how one of his companions — whom he identified as Khanyisani Nxele — fired several shots at the farmhouse, breaking several windows on their arrival. The alleged mastermind, Skhumbuzo Sithole, and Nxele kicked the front door until it gave way and the three of them were able to force their way into the home, he said.

They took a DVD player, a television set, various electrical appliances and other items and put them on the verandah.

Zungu said while they were doing this, they became aware that the Howards had locked themselves in a bedroom.

He said they did not try to enter the room, because they could ransack the house without confronting the owners.

Zungu said he put on a jacket he had found, and the men went into the kitchen where they started frying mince they took from the fridge.

While they cooked, they saw security guards arriving and fled, leaving all the loot behind.

He said he and his companions were drinking at a local tavern when Sithole asked them to accompany him to Waterford farm to commit robbery, and they had agreed. On the way he saw Sithole hand Nxele a shotgun.

Jappie accepted submissions by Zungu’s lawyer, Ishi Khan, that Zungu showed remorse by pleading guilty, that he had not initiated the robbery, that he had co-operated with police investigators, and that he was capable of being rehabilitated. These factors allowed him to deviate from the prescribed minimum of 15 years’ imprisonment.

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