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Durban - Therese Carlson, partner of murdered Kloof resident Rodney Bradley, believes he would have been alive today if the two men convicted of the crime had been dealt with properly by the courts in previous cases.
“When a suspended sentence is given, it should be given with a lot of caution,” she said. She was commenting on the fact that both Nhlanga Hlongwa and Njabulo Majozi, both 25, had previous convictions for housebreaking and, in Majozi’s case, one for culpable homicide. Majozi had spent no time in jail while Hlongwa had served only six months.
It also emerged on Thursday that Majozi also has a pending murder case, although this information was not officially put before the court.
Durban High Court Judge Esther Steyn on Thursday sentenced both men to life imprisonment for murder and 15 years for robbery – the legislated sentences for the offences – finding that there was no reason to deviate from them.
She also sentenced both to 10 years for the attempted murder of Carlson. Hlongwa was further sentenced to four years each for possession of a firearm and an unrelated housebreaking in Hillcrest, a charge he’d pleaded guilty to.
After sentencing, Carlson – who was unable to stop her tears – and Bradley’s brother, Kevin, embraced investigating officer Lieutenant Jabulani Zulu and prosecutor Rea Mina, and thanked them for their good work.
While satisfied with the sentence and that “justice had worked” this time, they both said the accused had been allowed to roam the streets because they had not been dealt with effectively during their first brushes with the law.
“Had they been sentenced to jail and served their sentences, Rodney would be alive,” Carlson said. “Does it take another murder for this justice system to work?”
The two men were convicted of murdering Bradley who, alerted by Carlson to intruders on the veranda, had gone armed with a stick to chase them away. He was shot six times in the passageway while a terrified Carlson locked herself in the bathroom.
In handing down sentence, the judge said the case showed how life could change in a flash and how Carlson’s most “precious possession”, Bradley, had been traumatically taken away from her in a just a few minutes one sunny Friday morning in April this year.
Carlson was lucky to be alive because she had acted swiftly in taking cover in the bathroom and attempts to eliminate her, by shooting through the door, were unsuccessful. “She may have no physical scars, but the emotional scars will probably take a lifetime to heal,” the judge said.
“People should be entitled to enjoy living in quiet, beautiful areas without fear of being robbed, attacked and killed.
“The accused planned this crime, waiting for the door to be opened… they took a life. Bradley was outnumbered, they were younger than him, he had a stick. They had a gun.
“They did not demand he hand over his properly. Instead they callously killed him.”
The judge commented that the accused had clearly not learnt their lessons from their other brushes with the law, saying Hlongwa’s sentence had obviously had no impact and Majozi had been given a “slap on the wrist”.
“You have shown no remorse”, the judge said, saying life imprisonment was “proportionate and just” given the circumstances of the case.
A third accused, Majozi’s cousin Siyane, pleaded guilty earlier and is serving 25 years.