Murderers given life plus 15 years

2014-12-15 00:00

THERE is nothing more frightening than being confronted in one’s own house by robbers and realising that one’s life could be over in a flash.

This was said by high court Judge Rishi Seegobin when he sentenced three men in their twenties to life plus 15 years’ imprisonment each for the brutal murder and robbery of Greytown businessman Cornelius “Joe” Herholdt (66).

He said their actions were “completely unacceptable in civilised society”.

Seegobin said levels of violent crime have reached endemic proportions in South Africa.

Herholdt was tied up in his home and stabbed repeatedly by Lungisani Zungu (19), helped by Sifiso Phungula (20) and Lindokhuhle Mbhese (20) on February 18.

Their search for a safe and money was cut short when they were confronted hiding in the house by security guards and police who were tipped off that a robbery was in progress.

Seegobin said their youth could not “tip the balance in their favour” because of the absolute viciousness with which the crimes were committed.

In spite of being caught red-handed in Herholdt’s house, they’d even had the temerity to plead not guilty and waste the court’s time, he said.

The judge said a belated apology by each of the three to Herholdt’s widow, Thelma, just before the sentencing on Friday “came a bit too late”.

He didn’t consider any of them could be rehabilitated and become useful members of society, he said.

He took into account that all three came from deprived backgrounds, none completed high school and had no training or skills. However, Seegobin said they didn’t just go to steal and rob without violence. “It was their clear intention to injure and to kill if necessary.”

He said Phungula previously worked for Herholdt, yet he was prepared to go and rob and kill him in the “most callous fashion”.

The judge also took into account the “devastating” impact of Herholdt’s murder on his family, community and employees.

THELMA Herholdt was overcome with emotion after the sentencing. Speaking on her behalf at court, her close friend Marietha Kruger said she was happy with the sentences and “just wants to get on with her life”.

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