Malmesbury train driver's teen killers get 25-year jail sentences

2018-06-20 16:08
Piet Botha (Supplied)

Piet Botha (Supplied)

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The convicted killers of Malmesbury train driver Piet Botha have received the maximum possible sentences for crimes committed by minors, during sentencing in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

This week, the High Court heard evidence in mitigation and aggravation of sentence from various witnesses for the two found guilty of murdering Botha at the Netreg station in broad daylight in July 2016.

Jatheme Hamid and Dorian Diedericks, both minors at the time, shot and killed Botha on the platform, before robbing him of his cellphone and bag.

The two, now 18 and 19 respectively, received 20 years for murder, 12 years for robbery, eight years for possession of an illegal firearm, three years for gang-related charges and two years for possession of illegal ammunition.

Three of the counts will run concurrently, resulting in an effective 25 years in prison.

A third man, 39-year-old Cedric Andrews, was found guilty of possessing an illegal firearm and ammunition, and was sentenced to an effective eight years in prison.

Judge Mark Sher on Wednesday said the court had to send a strong message to both the public, who demanded justice, and other "like-minded individuals" considering similar gang-related crimes.

"The court has a duty to send a strong message to gangsters who are terrorising communities and endangering passengers and Prasa personnel – that acts of violence are unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

"Offenders must think twice before engaging in such criminal acts."

'Cold, calculated'

Sher recounted the "cold and calculated manner" in which Botha was first accosted by the accused, and then murdered.

Video footage from the platform showed a helpless and defenceless Botha fall to the ground following an initial scuffle near his driver's door on the platform.

Hamid then shot Botha, who at that point "posed no physical threat", with a semi-automatic sub-machine gun, while he was lying on the ground, Sher said.

Diedericks then took the bag, as well as the cartridge, from the scene.

"All of this took place in less than one minute. You took the life of a valuable and respected member of society, all because of a brown leather bag, it seems."

Sher said it was particularly concerning that the accused never took the court into their confidence regarding the gang-related nature of the crime, and whether someone had actually directed the pair to commit the crime.

'Under the spell' of gang culture

Various witness testimonies, including from both accused’s mothers, showed they were members of the Young Dixie Boys gang, and "fell under the spell" of gang culture and the gang's leader, Sher said.

He said that, despite the lack of their own testimonies, the case was "very clearly gang-related", and possibly related to ongoing efforts to steal firearms from state personnel at train stations on the Cape Flats.

Weapons of that nature should not be in the hands of the public, according to police testimony, he said.

He also acknowledged the rising costs for Prasa and society following the very public murder, which included strike action by at-risk train drivers and unions, increased costs for security, and the eventual closure of the Cape Town central line for a period of a few months following more incidents.

Sher also expressed cynicism over the two admitting their guilt during arguments for mitigation of sentence. They had previously denied any wrongdoing for the duration of the trial.

"Perhaps, when you spend some time in prison over the next few years, the full implication of what you have done will dawn on you, because I don't think it has."

He concluded by sending his condolences to the Botha family, including wife Tania and daughter Nadia, who were present for the sentencing.

He hoped they could receive some sort of psychological closure as a result, acknowledging the "terrible effect" the murder of their husband, father and breadwinner had had and will continue to have on the family.

He also complimented the police for its "delicate" work in the case, saying officers were rarely complimented.

A relieved Tania and Nadia embraced following Sher's sentencing, and hugged the State prosecutor, who preferred not to be named.

The three accused showed very little emotion following the sentencing, and were led back down into the holding cells.

Read more on:    piet botha  |  cape town  |  crime
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