Man jailed for role in killing WWII pilot

2012-06-08 08:45

Pretoria - A man was sentenced to 18 years in prison by the North Gauteng High Court on Thursday for his part in the violent murder and robbery of an elderly World War II fighter pilot.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius sentenced Albert Mothiba, 37, to a total of 28 years' imprisonment for murdering 89-year-old Monument Park pensioner Frans Swemmer and robbing him of his car, cellphone and household goods three years ago.

She ordered that he should serve 18 years of his sentence.

Swemmer, who survived World War II and the Korean War as a fighter pilot for the SA Air Force, was found in a pool of blood in his house after being dragged there from his garage.

Mothiba admitted guilt, but said he had been living on the street and was desperate for some form of income when he took part in the robbery, allegedly with David Maluleka.

He said they waited for Swemmer to return home, but kept watch outside when two fellow robbers went into the garage and attacked Swemmer with a hammer and a spanner.

Maluleka allegedly stabbed Swemmer twice in the chest when he was invited inside.

He also helped to drag the elderly man into the house and drove away from the scene in his car.


Pretorius said Mothiba had not been the main perpetrator of the murder and the State could not prove that it had been premeditated.

"Mothiba had grown up under harsh circumstances. His father had physically abused him so badly that he still had visible scars on his back," Pretorius said.

Mothiba dropped out of school early because of mental challenges and was diagnosed as being schizophrenic in 1993.

These circumstances had made the emotionally immature Mothiba more prone to participation in these horrendous crimes.

"He is uneducated, unemployed, suffers from a mental illness and has little or no support from his family.

"He is a person who led a sad and lonely life," she said.

Pretorius said Swemmer was an elderly man who had lived alone. He died in a brutal attack with blows all over his body while his hands and feet were tied together.

She found that there were reasons justifying a lesser sentence in Mothiba's personal circumstances, his plea of guilt and expression of remorse, and that he was not the person who killed Swemmer.

The fact that he had spent more than two-and-a-half years in jail awaiting trial, through no fault of his own, was in itself a mitigating factor.

Mothiba was also prepared to testify against Maluleka, who has pleaded not guilty and who goes on trial in September.

  • Bond - 2012-06-08 09:08


  • Terence - 2012-06-08 09:16

    How sad, a Hero killed by those who are not even fit to walk in his shadow. RIP Old Man you deserved better from your Country than to end your life in this way.

  • CharlesDumbwin - 2012-06-08 09:16

    some guys says 'apes', and News24 deletes my comment ??? Surely not.

      Ted - 2012-06-08 09:48

      There is actually a conspiracy I think. Some News24 employee doesn't like comments that come from us. Look at how they purge messages that have anything to do with blacks candidly responding to racist jabs by their lighter counterparts. Its uncalled for censorship. For your own info, I received a message in my facebook inbox from someone who threatened me for a comment I made on this forum! They said they knew who I was and where I was. That can surely be someone who works for News04! barring a hacker. Its sad an organisation can be so rotten at the core. Thinking of filing a lawsuit.

      mugo.mudzi - 2012-06-08 10:16

      you two , Ted and Dumbwin there, are self centered and full of yourselves, I thought the issue here was the elderly guy murdered by ruthless criminals, not black people but criminals. Your comments are always borderline racist that is why you get such treatment, period! You can't refer to a human being as a human being without distinguishing race? Crime does not make a distinction between race, it just separates the innocent and the guilty, the good and the evil.

      Stille - 2012-06-08 10:36

      @mugo - " I thought the issue here was the elderly guy murdered by ruthless criminals, not black people but criminals" - In this case, as in most of them lately - the victim was a 89 year old white man, and the criminal was a young 37 year old black man.

      nigel.burgess.52 - 2012-06-08 10:54

      Doesn't matter in more. To hell with being politically correct. Face the facts and call a spade a spade. Say it like it is or go home.

  • Geronimo - 2012-06-08 09:28

    How on earth can justice be served by this cold blooded murderer only serving 18 years in prison? In the UK yesterday, 5 men were given sentences ranging from 30 years to 18 years, and a teenager sentenced to 12 years, for their role in the riots last year: they were found guilty of reckless arson, rioting and firearms possession. They fired shots at a police helicopter. Note that no-one was even injured or killed by the shots they fired. Now THOSE are proper sentences. If the ANC are adamant that the death penalty be abolished, then the only position they should contemplate is: if you take someone's life, you spend the rest of your life behind bars. Bring back hard labour for convicted murderers too.

      Heibrin - 2012-06-08 09:53

      I REALLY support the hard labor bit. It will teach these crims that jail isn't the free ride that it currently is.

  • Willem - 2012-06-08 09:28

    Fair result - this man was not a true murderer and the judge came to a fair conclusion. His mental impairment might even have been so bad that he was not fully responsible. Different matter with the other one who is still to go on trial - final solution for him, I would say.

  • TheyTookMyNickLaZynEko - 2012-06-08 09:33

    desperation is no excuse when participating in MURDER. JAIL EM.

  • Clint - 2012-06-08 09:33

    Is'nt it time for the death penalty to be re-introduced? How the hell can a 37 yr old attack & still kepp on attacking a 89yr old person even though their hands & feet are tied? I suppose the next thing they going to blame their crime spree on it The Old South Africa. Please can some-one out there arrange just him & me together in a room just half an hour.

  • Beau - 2012-06-08 09:46

    Uneducatedand mentally challenged, but not too 'DOF' to assist others in killing an elderly man. Rather disgusting, you cowardly animal.

  • jeffrey.jones.357 - 2012-06-08 10:10

    Not content to kill him they tie-up and beat a very old man who put his life on the line when younger to protect the world from Nazis. Sickening!

  • Ian - 2012-06-08 10:14


  • Forest Gump - 2012-06-08 10:22

    surviving all that only to b killed by some criminal idiot really sad

  • Tommy - 2012-06-08 10:28

    "but said he had been living on the street and was desperate for some form of income when he took part in the robbery" My liberal wife had this viewpoint of: "ag shame, they have no food and maybe they were just hungry"....that was until our first child was born.

  • masiagwala.a.mukololo - 2012-06-08 10:32

    stop making excuses for what he has done ,he deserves 2 be jailed for the rest of his life.

  • Warwick Bristow - 2012-06-08 10:34

    I am sorry. He might have had the crappest life ever, his murderous actions are not justified.

  • Kevin - 2012-06-08 10:36

    These are not robbers they are voilent murders - WHY THE VIOLENCE - HANG THEM I SAY..!

  • Stille - 2012-06-08 10:44

    To all the bleeding hearts out there. READ what was said.Yhis sentence was faaaar to lenient. 1. "Mothiba dropped out of school early because of mental challenges and was diagnosed as being schizophrenic in 1993" 2. "He is uneducated, unemployed, suffers from a mental illness and has little or no support from his family" 3. "He is a person who led a sad and lonely life," So, all these things justifies him helping his friend stab an elderly beaten up old man twice in the chest when he was called in? Screw him. Hope he gets his own in prison. Sooner rather than later, because i am paying for his royal stay.

      Shaun Potter - 2014-10-21 08:43

      this bleeding heart thinks he got a bad deal compared to Oscar but the death penalty has my support. Oscar was far more qualified and well treated. education is the key and Oscar was educated. do feel for the old guy and all the others including family and friends that were murdered.

  • nigel.burgess.52 - 2012-06-08 10:52

    There's a real War Vet, killed by Ba#$%*ds in his twilight years. Death penalty please.

  • mbonisim2 - 2012-06-08 11:03

    Staying in the street, uneducated, is not a defence at all, he was supouse to go and ask for help, from that old man, instead of killing. It pains me alot imagine 89year man old.

  • gideon.keyser - 2012-06-08 11:22

    these \people\ doesnt deserve to live. you really really really dont have to kill such an old man. you dont even need to kill anyone while robbing them. are all the criminals out there retards?

  • leslie.rabie - 2012-06-08 13:07

    BOOO HOOOO everybody has a sad story.. They took a life.. end of story

  • Edwin - 2012-06-10 13:58

    AND MURDERING AN OLD DEFENCELESS SOUL STILLED YOUR HUNGER?????????????? WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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