Court overemphasised retributionComment on this story
Cape Town - The sentence of a handyman for the murder of a Claremont woman he worked for has been cut from life to 22 years in jail.
This comes after Moegamat Armien Salie, 32, took his sentence on appeal before a full bench of the Western Cape High Court. It was found that the court that had tried and sentenced Salie - also the high court - had failed to take cognisance of his personal circumstances and had “overemphasised retribution”.
Salie was convicted by Acting Judge Diane Davis on June 10 last year for the murder of mother-of-one Anzunette du Plessis, as well as for robbery with aggravating circumstances. The incident took place on October 4, 2012.
Salie had gained entry to his victim’s Claremont home, stolen several items, stabbed Du Plessis and slit her throat, then made away with his loot in a wheelie bin.
He had planned to sell the items - all but a TV set, which he was to give to his children - in Hanover Park, but was caught that same day by police officers on patrol.
The officers noticed blood on Salie and on the items in the wheelie bin.
Acting Judge Davis sentenced him to life behind bars for the murder and 15 years for the robbery.
A full bench of the high court, however, set aside the sentences and replaced it with 22 years in jail for the murder and 10 years for the robbery. The sentences would run concurrently.
In a judgment by Judge Thandazwa Ndita, which was handed down on Monday, she said that there was no justification for Salie’s crimes.
“It is difficult to imagine why a fellow human being would slaughter another in the manner in which (Du Plessis) was killed,” it read.
She added, however, that justice was always blended with a measure of mercy.
Judge Ndita said that according to Acting Judge Davis’s findings, the remorse and contrition that Salie - who had pleaded guilty to the charges - had expressed was largely based on self-preservation.
Her judgment later went on to say: “Whilst the gravity and callousness of the offences cannot and should not be understated, it remains to be said that a balanced sentence must give expression to the crime, the offender and the legitimate interests of society.
“Counsel for (Salie) strenuously contended that the (trial court) misdirected itself in finding that the remorse and contrition expressed by (Salie) is not genuine.”
Judge Ndita said Salie could not be viewed in the same light as someone who distanced him or herself from the crime altogether and failed to take responsibility for their actions.
Ndita further said that an unbalanced sentence served neither the interests of the community nor those of Salie.
While a lengthy term of imprisonment was warranted, she said that upon consideration of all the circumstances of the case the prescribed minimum sentences - life for the murder and 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances - were not proportionate to the offences.