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Pretoria - One of the men who shot dead a partially paralysed man and wounded his wife outside the front gate of their Pretoria home in 2007 was sentenced to in effect 25 years' imprisonment by the High Court in Pretoria on Monday.
Judge Mmonoa Teffo ordered that Goodwill Thapelo Mafatshe, 33, a Mabopane sales representative, must serve 25 years of a 45-year sentence for murder, attempted murder, armed robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Mafatshe was part of a three-man gang which accosted Henry Vorster and his wife Magriet in September 2009 while they were opening the gate to their townhouse complex in Willow Glen after attending a braai earlier that evening.
One of the men had a gun and ordered them to get out of the car. When they did not react quickly enough, he smashed the window and shot at them.
The left side of Vorster's body was paralysed because of a stroke, and his wife told the court he “froze” and could not get out of the vehicle.
She screamed at her husband to get out and give the hijackers the car.
She tried to retrieve her handbag, but was punched and kicked before the hijackers raced off in the car.
She realised she had been shot in the arm and leg only when she could not walk when trying to help her husband, who by then lay gasping for breath on the road. He had been shot in the neck and chest.
A neighbour took the couple to hospital, but doctors were unable to revive Mr Vorster.
His wife was operated on to remove a bullet from her leg.
The police and an employee of a tracking company saw Mafatshe inside the hijacked car parked in Soshanguve the next day.
He jumped out of the car on seeing the police and ran away, but was shot in the leg. Police found the car keys in his pocket.
Teffo described the murder as senseless and cold-blooded.
Vorster and his wife had not resisted and it had not been necessary to break the window and shoot them.
“The deceased was only 57-years-old. He did not deserve to die the way he did.
“South Africa is a free country. Where should we live if we're treated like this by members of the society where we live?
“We cannot always fear for our lives because of criminal actions like these. Violent crimes such as this one can no longer be tolerated in our society.
“The level of violence is so alarming that society has become tired of living in these circumstances. Your actions affected the life of the complainant emotionally, financially and psychologically.
“You've robbed her of her husband, with whom she planned to spend her life. The trauma you put her through will endure throughout her life.
“Surely society abhors your actions. No one has the right to take another person's life. Human life is a precious gift from God. Once taken, it cannot be replaced,” she told Mafatshe.
She said Mafatshe had not shown remorse throughout the proceedings and was not immature when he committed the crimes.
However, life imprisonment would be unfair when the only evidence linking him to the crime was that he was found in possession of the hijacked car and it was not clear that he was the person who fired the fatal shots, Teffo said.