Johannesburg - Thabo* might have suffered a bullet wound that has left him with a scar that will never disappear.
Yet on Wednesday, the boy couldn’t understand why the man who had shot and wounded him was going to prison. This is despite his mother sitting him down to explain the reasons.
The 6-year-old was shot by a neighbour – a man he has referred to as his uncle for the years he has known him.
He was overcome by emotions.
This was after the South Gauteng High Court, sitting at the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court, jailed former Joburg metro police officer Siphiwe Mbatha for killing his girlfriend Elaine Lenong and her lover Tumelo Michael Thosago in December 2012.
He also shot the little boy in the ensuing drama.
“Mama, mama, I forgot to say sorry to umalume (uncle),” said the boy, turning his back to his mother.
Said his mother: “I don’t know what to say to him. I explained the reasons why we are here. It is not easy for me. I am pained that (Mbatha) will be gone for a very long time,” she said tearfully.
“Seeing him walking away pained me a lot. He has children. He is young himself.”
Before Mbatha’s sentencing, his 6-year-old neighbour testified that he still struggled to walk as a result of the gunshot wound.
He told the court he has had a limp since then.
Judge Lucy Mailula handed Mbatha a 15-year sentence for each murder, eight years for kidnapping and three years for malicious damage to property.
Some of the sentences will run concurrently, with Mbatha having to spend an effective 27 years behind bars.
He was acquitted of the attempted murder count relating to the shooting of the 6-year-old in the foot, as the bullet meant for Lenong had ricocheted.
Mbatha initially pleaded guilty to all the charges against him, but the judge rejected his plea when he claimed he had not intended to kill anyone and that he had had a memory blackout.
Mbatha, 31, kidnapped Lenong on December 29, 2012 at gunpoint from her colleague’s car outside her workplace at Tshepo-Themba Private Hospital.
When Thosago confronted him about the kidnapping, he shot and killed him.
He used his service revolver to kill Thosago first. Lenong fled, but Mbatha shot and killed her.
* Not his real name