Man jailed for killing boss in fit of rage

2012-09-12 09:02

Pretoria - A former gardener who murdered his elderly employer in a fit of rage because he refused to pay his wages and called him a "kaffir" was jailed for 15 years on Tuesday.

The North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria sentenced Jacob Pantsi Mmekwa, 32, of Stinkwater, to 12 years' imprisonment for murdering his 68-year-old employer Sarel Koekemoer on his smallholding at Bultfontein, north of Pretoria, in September 2009.

Mmekwa was sentenced to a further three years' imprisonment for stealing his employer's firearm and the illegal possession of the firearm and ammunition.

The sentences will not run concurrently.


His friend Levy Mthombeni, 21, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for the firearm offences, but will only have to serve a short period behind bars before his sentence is converted to correctional supervision.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius found the murder had not been premeditated and Mmekwa had been provoked, as he had not been paid his salary.

"An argument ensued when he [went to] fetch his money, and the unchallenged evidence was that the deceased refused to pay him, accusing him of stealing and swearing at him.

"The court cannot but find that where a person earns as little as R450 per month, and a week after payment was due had not yet been paid, that there was some provocation.

"However, this does not entitle people to murder. The accused could have gone to the police to try and solve the matter," she said.

"...He was also called a "kaffir", which is one of the words which should be eradicated from our language, as it is deemed to be such a gross insult," she said.

Deprived of a father

Pretorius stressed that she had taken into account that Koekemoer's adult daughter had been traumatised by her father's violent death, even more so as she had found his body, and was on her own at the time.

"The accused's actions had deprived the daughter of the deceased of a father and her children of a grandfather, as well as his own son of a father.

"...(Mmekwa) will leave prison as a middle-aged man, thereby forgoing the joys of fatherhood, building a life and caring for his family," she said.

  • christopher.shining - 2012-09-12 09:06

    kick him in the teeth!

      bless.boswell - 2012-09-12 09:36

      Kick who in the teeth Christopher?

  • larry.piggott1 - 2012-09-12 09:13

    What on Earthe would the World think of us if they knew all of what is happening here?

      michael.vanrheenen.9 - 2012-09-12 09:34

      I think they already know... They are just playing ignorant as they have their own problems. I am affraid if we do not sort out our own problems no one will.

  • bless.boswell - 2012-09-12 09:35

    To underpay a worker is extremely unwise because it breeds discontent, and then to pay late is another very bad idea ... But to murder someone because of it shows just how fragile the thread of civilization is - its like the law of the jungle - kill or be killed. I thought we had moved beyond that.

      jpstrauss - 2012-09-12 09:52

      R450 a week for gardening is not bad. Unless the defendant was a landscaper? But I doubt that.

      christiaan.vanvuuren.9 - 2012-09-12 10:02

      It was R450 a month. Although this might seem like a small amount, it should be kept in mind that no one employs a gardener for a full week. R450 seems to me like the pay of a person working once a week. Leaving space for 4 other gardens. Still this is a tragedy which could be averted respect and communication.

  • brytzishiri - 2012-09-12 09:40

    I think lack of knowledge is the rot in the south african society. There were so many channels this guy could have used to get what was due to him even more. firstly he wasn't even being paid minimum wage which could have been backdated, secondly his wage paid late could have been paid to him with damages. Instead of killing he could have just gone many of the labour centers.The gvt should educate people on dispute resolution bodies.

      christiaan.vanvuuren.9 - 2012-09-12 10:05

      It is true what your saying but there are other factors at play. He might have had a desperate need on that particular moment for that money. Which would take all you proposals out of the equation since they are time consuming.

      sibs.dlamini.1 - 2012-09-12 14:31

      Smartest comment I've read Brytzishiri, except for the part about government educating people. That's almost science fiction.

  • chilli.stephenson1 - 2012-09-12 09:42

    Two people lost their lives here and for what! Over money! The love of money is the root to all evil. Why didn't the old fart just pay the man what he owed him and be nicer! Why do people have to always be so flippen mean to one another. These poor guys also have families and mouths to feed. Murder is never the answer! Both of these men were in the wrong!

  • lerato.kay.3 - 2012-09-12 09:42

    The court cannot but find that where a person earns as little as R450 per month, and a week after payment was due had not yet been paid, that there was some provocation. I totally agree with the court here, if we treat each other as humans are supposed to do lives would be saved. Paying someone R450 a month and calling them names is just a ticking time bomb

  • tracy.dardis.3 - 2012-09-12 09:44

    15 years sentence for taking away someones life... shows how little life is valued. Message to all South Africans, murder someone.. get wrapped over the knuckles and then 15 years free room and board..... disgusting. The sentence should match the crime, take a life serve a life sentence, society does not need people like that.

  • michael.barns.1 - 2012-09-12 09:49

    When will people in this country learn, it is not worth getting into an argument or fight with your domestic workers over pay. Life is cheap in Africa, almost all things can we worked out diplomatically.

      sandra.j.rennie - 2012-09-12 10:01

      Michael , without a doubt !

  • shelley.vorster.9 - 2012-09-12 10:01

    ag nee man! Poeple you cant expect people to work for you and then NOT pay them??!!! Come on man!

  • john.collin.1690 - 2012-09-12 10:04

    and i guess we'll just take the criminals word that it was over late payment and the supposed "derogatory" word.. I have seen too many instances when a black person accuses someone of calling them the "K" word and it never happened.. its so easy to use that as an excuse, guess we'll never know.

  • beki.khumalo - 2012-09-12 10:06

    I question the justice system in this case. Yesterday the court sentenced a child killer to community service, this after he shot and killed the boy because he 'thought he was being hijacked'. The man was not in any danger, there was no arguements, he just shot at their car and killed the boy! Community service!!! And then you have a man insulted in the worst way possible and denied his wages, he goes into a fit of rage and does the unthinkable. What does he get? 15 years! Doesn't make sense to me! And before some of you go racial: this is not about race, it's about justice!

      dawn.campbellgibson - 2012-09-13 10:08

      beki - the 2 cases are completely different. The 'Gardenboy' had time to think of what he was doing, therefore he intentionally MURDERED his boss. The other story, although very sad was not intentional or planned.

  • winifred.watson.9 - 2012-09-12 10:12

    Today you are very scared to employ people, domestic's gardners and even phone a plumber etc you just put yourself at risk. People will resort to small business, corner store grocer etc whereby they can employ mainly their own family. Its not safe anymore to take a chance. You have words with your employee next days he walks in with a panga and chops you up into a hundred pieces. Sorry, its time to watch all of our backs from now on.

      Bosvark Van Rensburg - 2012-09-12 10:25

      Depends on what kind of words you have used.

  • roy.wadhams.1 - 2012-09-12 10:48

    COWARDS,RUBBISH,ILLITERATE BASTARDS they can only do these type of things to the elderly and if they are in gangs. What is this country coming to? This USELESS ANC government must wake up and bring back the death penalty so that we can get rid of this rubbish as soon as possible.

  • dirk.strauss.5 - 2012-09-12 12:48

    I did not get payed so lets steal a weapon... To do what with?

  • kiran.reddy.39589149 - 2012-09-12 14:26

    12-year jail sentence for murdering a 68-yr old man, is what it boils down to.

  • sifiso.msimango - 2012-09-12 15:06

    again these sentences are a bit harsh

      murray.campbell.980 - 2012-09-13 09:47

      If someone killed your father over apparently what he said or did what sentence would you want that killer of your father to get,, lets say it was a white man who worked for your father... less than 12 years for your dads murder by a white man.. I don't think so, you would either want him killed or life in jail.

  • murray.campbell.980 - 2012-09-13 09:43

    Stories like this make you want to review the death penalty, if our correctional services were not so corrupt and actual correction took place this oke could come back into society and be active on the other hand it is a crying shame that we actually have to house and feed this oke for the next 15 years after what he did, there is no simple solution. Lary, don't kid yourself that this does not happen all over the world.. open your eyes mate.

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