'He died a horrible and painful death': Teens get 10 years for Thoriso Themane murder

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Thoriso Themane.
Thoriso Themane.
  • The Polokwane High Court has imposed prison sentences in the murder case of Thoriso Themane.
  • The four teenagers guilty of his murder will spend their sentences at youth centres first before being moved to prison.
  • The judge said child offenders sometimes acted on impulse.

Four teenagers found guilty of the murder of aspiring musician Thoriso Themane in 2019 have been sentenced to 10 years each - split between rehabilitation youth centres first and then prison when they turn 21.

They are now 18 years or older and committed the crime when they were minors.

Kgothatso Teffo, Raofa Mothemela, Tshiamo Miyeni and Lesetja Ramokgopa will spend varying lengths of time in youth centres, depending on their age, before being moved to prison when they turn 21.

Two other teenagers - Thabang Mohubedi and Adaho Mudau - were sentenced to three years in prison, suspended for five years, for common assault.

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Two adults - Chuene Maleka and Alfred Mothapo - were convicted of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and were handed R20 000 fines each or five years in prison. 

Passing sentence in the Polokwane High Court in Limpopo on Wednesday, Deputy Judge President Violet Semenya described the killing of Themane as "horrible and painful".

The brutal attack on Themane in February 2019 lasted between three and four hours before he was left lying on the street until he was taken by ambulance to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries the following day. 

People protest after the murder of Thoriso Themane.

Semenya found the four teenagers, sentenced for the murder, participated in all seven stages of the attack.

Themane was first attacked in a public park in Fauna Park, Polokwane, by teenagers who were drinking alcohol. They accused him of previously stealing from one of their friends.

READ | Three brothers die at school after allegedly consuming energy drink

Semenya noted Themane did not scream or utter a word during the attack according to evidence.

"The deceased was unable to defend himself. He never uttered a word. He was like a sheep being led to a slaughter[house]. He died a horrible and painful death.

"It was a slow and torturous death. The accused even had the audacity of recording the incident. The video went viral. That's how the parents [of the deceased] learned of his death. Seemingly, [the accused] were enjoying what they were doing." 

However, Semenya was at pains to explain what appropriate sentence should be imposed, especially given the main perpetrators were minors at the time. 

She noted child offenders were sometimes influenced by immaturity, adding they were vulnerable and "act on impulse".

Semenya was concerned children were now involved in serious crimes such as murder.

"I have no doubt that every day a certain High Court or regional court imposes a life sentence. The deceased was not killed by mistake. The child offenders knew very well what they were doing."

However, she pointed out teenagers were still pupils with ambitions, and they were once detained in a youth centre, and had "a taste of what prison is like" - meaning they have a chance to be rehabilitated.

Semenya ordered the youth centres, where they will be detained, to provide progress reports. 

She also instructed the probation officer to return to court on Friday to confirm whether the teenagers have been admitted to the centres.

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