15-yr jail term agreed to for cop killer

2013-04-15 12:00
(File, Sapa)

(File, Sapa)

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Cape Town - A Cape Town man was jailed for 15 years by the Western Cape High Court on Monday for stabbing his police officer neighbour to death.

Barnabas Sentiwe, dressed in a blue tracksuit, kept his head down and his hands clasped while details of a plea and sentencing agreement into which he entered on Thursday were read out in court.

The 37-year-old agreed to a 20-year jail term for killing Constable Monwabisi Mnyombolo.

However, the State conceded to a 15-year sentence after it confirmed certain provisions of the Criminal Procedures Act were not relevant.

The act prescribes a life sentence for those who kill police officers performing their functions, whether on duty or not.

Judge Robert Henney said the circumstances in this case were different, in that Sentiwe's neighbour happened to be a policeman and his death was the result of a private matter.

Body buried in backyard

Sentiwe admitted going to the policeman's house on 24 October 2009 and accusing him of having an affair with his wife, Phumza Veli, a co-accused in the case.

Sentiwe stabbed Mnyombolo during the ensuing argument.

He then carried the body to his home in Mfuleni and buried it in the backyard.

He sold the house in April the next year. In May 2011, the owners saw a piece of cloth sticking out of the sand, pulled it, and discovered a pair of pants and bones.

Forensic tests were done and the bones were identified as belonging to Mnyombolo.

Henney said he had considered Sentiwe's personal circumstances; namely that he was a first offender, had four children, and had been in custody for 15 months.

"[However], the fact he [the policeman] was buried in a shallow grave and left there is a despicable act which cannot be condoned," the judge said in accepting 15 years as a just sentence.

The State withdrew the charges against Veli, who was accused as an accessory after the fact.
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