PTA robbers guilty of rape, murder

Pretoria - Two men who admitted to breaking into homes in the north of Pretoria, killing an elderly Greek immigrant and almost killing another man, were found guilty in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.

Judge Ferdi Preller found Moetla Richard Donald Mokalapa, 23, of Mamelodi, guilty on 14 charges, including murder, attempted murder, rape and four of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

He found Alex Maila, 29, of Atteridgeville, guilty on 10 charges, including attempted murder, rape, and two of robbery with aggravating circumstances.

The State provisionally withdrew several further charges against them after they admitted guilt to the charges.

The two broke into homes in Wonderboom and Sinoville over six months in 2010 and 2011 before they were caught.

Mokalapa admitted he broke into the home of Greek immigrant Georgios Savvides and his wife Emmerentia in March 2011.

He said Maila shot Savvides through his bedroom door when he peeped out after hearing his wife scream for help in another room.

Maila denied guilt on the murder charge and denied breaking into Savvides' home.

Savvides was shot in the stomach and died on the scene. His wife moved to the Cape after the murder.

Mokalapa admitted breaking into other homes and robbing the owners at gunpoint.

He and Maila both admitted to raping a woman during one of the robberies and trying to murder Sinoville home owner Leon van der Merwe after breaking into his home in June 2011.

Mokalapa said in a statement Van der Merwe tried to fight back but he managed to hit him on the mouth with his gun.

"As he was trying to fight, I pointed... my unlicensed firearm and pulled the trigger in an attempt to kill him. However, the firearm got stuck and a bullet fell out of the firearm," he said.

He then ran away.

Both accused have previous convictions for, among others, housebreaking and theft.

Their lawyers argued their guilty pleas were indicative of remorse and they deserved lesser sentences. Their youth, and their having spent three years in jail should also be considered.

It was argued that Mokalapa was a regular church-goer.

Preller said being religious was no guarantee that a person would not commit crimes.

The judge said if he had learnt one lesson in his many years on the Bench, it was that if someone had a Bible under his arm, you could be sure that he would not be honest with you.

Prosecutor Salome Scheepers argued they had no other choice than to plead guilty because the evidence against them was overwhelming. Eight witnesses had identified them and they were linked to some of the crimes through DNA.

She said they need not have fired the shot which killed Savvides as they could have run away if they feared he was going to defend himself with a firearm.

The trial continues.

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