Man sentenced to life behind bars for killing alleged cellphone thief

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The Sterkspruit Regional Court in the Eastern Cape has sentenced a 48-year-old man to life imprisonment for murdering a young man he accused of stealing his cellphone.

According to National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Luxolo Tyali, a group of men from Cathberg Village accosted Mookamedi Phomane, 20, at his home on 14 November 2016 and demanded that he return a cellphone they accused him of stealing from Sipho Mphumanto.

Phomane repeatedly denied any knowledge of the phone. After a long interrogation, Mphumanto demanded to further question Phomane. He drove past the police station, dropped his friends in town and took Phomane to an unknown place.

READ | Gauteng man who killed wife, claiming he thought she was intruder, remains in custody

"After several hours, Mphumanto returned [Phomane] to his mother. He had sustained multiple injuries on both his upper and lower limbs, suggesting he was severely assaulted. The following day he succumbed to the injuries in hospital," Tyali said.

Mphumanto denied assaulting Phomane but the State convinced the court that the only reasonable inference to be drawn was that Mphumanto had planned to kill Phomane.

The court found no substantial or compelling circumstances justifying a deviation from the prescribed sentence of life imprisonment.

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