Slain teacher's family disappointed with 10-year sentence handed to 'heartless' pupil

2019-02-28 21:14
A picture of slain North West teacher Gadimang Mokolobate.

A picture of slain North West teacher Gadimang Mokolobate. (Ntwaagae Seleka)

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A North West magistrate has described a Grade 10 pupil who killed a teacher at a school in Lehurutshe as a "heartless" and "cold-blooded" murderer who lacked remorse.

Magistrate Winnie Malane said the teenager's fatal attack on teacher Gadimang Mokolobate, 24, on September 13 last year was "unprovoked". The pupil was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment on Thursday.

Malane told the packed Lehurutshe Regional Court that Mokolobate, who was a teacher at Ramotshere Moiloa High Schoo,l was defenceless and vulnerable when he was killed while invigilating an exam.

"In my opinion, the attack on the teacher was unprovoked. It was nothing but a cold-blooded murder. The deceased was defenceless and vulnerable," she said while delivering judgment.

A day before Mokolobate was killed, the accused – through his social worker's report – told the court that he was harshly reprimanded by the teacher.

He claimed Mokolobate spoke to him harshly while ordering him to cut his long hair. The boy, who cannot be named as he is a minor, said the teacher never ordered other pupils who had long hair to cut theirs.

Killing was planned

The pupil claimed he was later reprimanded for the second time by Mokolobate for standing in the wrong queue to receive food during lunch. Mokolobate then ordered him to join another queue.

The teen then moved to the front of another queue, jumping ahead of other pupils. He claimed Mokolobate then told the woman who was serving the food not to attend to the pupil.

"The juvenile then went home angry to calm himself down. The following day, he went back to the school to teach Mokolobate a lesson. When one looks at your behaviour, I can see that some planning was properly done. The teacher was then attacked in a space where he was vulnerable. He was stabbed once in his chest and died," said Malane.

READ: Tensions erupt in North West courtroom during sentencing of pupil who killed his teacher

In his pre-sentencing report, the teenager said when he was angry, the only way he felt he could feel better was if he killed someone.

The pupil told the court that he only felt sorry for his family but not for the family of the teacher because of the negative attention the matter had brought on the teen's relative.

It has also been established that the pupil joined a gang at the youth centre where he was being kept during the trial.

"The deceased was a teacher and a breadwinner. He chose a career which was a calling to him. That calling ended his life. You trampled on his right to life. His family will live their lives without their loved one. It has been difficult for me to decide an appropriate sentence," Malane said.

Lenient sentence

Mokolobate's father, Prettyboy Mokolobate, said the sentence was lenient and they would never forgive the pupil.

"The justice system has failed us. This is not the first incident to happen in this country and it is not the last. I am not happy with the sentence. I was expecting him to be sentenced to life or 25 years. We are trying to cope without my son. This boy has hurt us and didn't show any remorse," he said.

South African Democratic Teachers Union North West secretary Els Themba said the body accepted the court's decision.

Themba added that the union hoped the sentence would send a strong message to other pupils that no one had the right to take someone else's life.

"We have pushed the department to convene a safety summit where everybody, including members of society, [will] discuss safety measures in our school. Our members are not safe in our schools and we want this matter to be addressed. Safety is not the department's baby alone, it needs society at large," said Themba. 

Read more on:    sadtu  |  els themba  |  prettyboy mokolobate  |  gadimang mokolobate  |  mahikeng  |  courts

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