Don’t punish, rehabilitate pupil, expert urges court

2016-03-10 10:30
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Pietermaritzburg - A clinical psychologist on Wednesday urged a regional court magistrate not to impose a purely punitive sentence on a 15-year-old boy who shot a fellow pupil dead in Copesville.

The teenager (who was 14-and-a-half at the time of the incident on November 12, 2014) pleaded guilty to shooting dead Akhona Nakile (15) at Msilinga Primary School, and wounding Lindokuhle Thabethe, who was struck by the same bullet.

In his plea the boy said the shooting was a response to being bullied.

Professor Anthony Pillay suggested to regional magistrate Rose Mogwera yesterday that a sentence that aimed at rehabilitating the teenaged killer would be appropriate as he had not previously displayed an criminal behaviour.

Pillay said he was “not an expert” when it came to sentencing, and he could not suggest to the court what sentence to impose on the boy.

However, he said that the sentence should be aimed at rehabilitation and should incorporate psychological therapy.

“I suggest that the sentence ought to be carried out in an environment conducive to healthy development,” he said.

Pillay added that he was not saying the boy should be “let off the hook” but said the focus of the sentence should be on rehabilitation rather than punishment for both his benefit and that of society.

He said there was no indication the youngster had previously embarked on criminal or violent behaviour and his father had confirmed he was “not problematic” at home prior to the incident.

Pillay said in his view the “unfortunate events” stemmed from the fact the boy had “relatively easy” access to a firearm in the household.

The boy had reported that he was involved in “conflict” with a group of boys for some time prior to the incident concerning a girl he liked, which had led to the shooting.

On the day of the incident he removed a firearm from under a wardrobe and took it to school.

He said he had not intended to use the gun, but could not explain why he took it with him.

After a confrontation with one of the boys, who drew a knife, he produced the gun and shot him.

The court has also been handed reports by a social worker — N. Ngcobo, who also testified yesterday, and Correctional Services, both of which recommend the boy be imprisoned.

Further evidence will be led on April 6.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  court  |  shooting

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