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Eight days more than halved a 15-year jail sentence.
Veli Collen Madonsela was convicted in Kempton Park of armed robbery because he was found in possession of a vehicle hijacked from a couple in Primrose, Germiston, in July 2007.
Police found the vehicle at Madonsela’s home in Tembisa eight days after the hijacking.
He was present when the vehicle, fitted with false registration plates and numbers, was found, and claimed it had been left there by someone he knew only as Sandile.
The Kempton Park Regional Court found “Sandile” didn’t exist, rejected Madonsela’s version and convicted him.
Last month, the Johannesburg High Court reduced Madonsela’s sentence to seven years.
Judge Fritz van Oosten, with Acting Judge TP Mudau concurring, said in a reportable judgment that the trial court did not correctly use the doctrine of recent possession when convicting Madonsela of armed robbery.
Judge Van Oosten said it was common cause that Madonsela was in possession of the vehicle, but questioned whether this could be regarded as “recent possession”.
He referred to other judgments on recent possession, agreeing with one that 24 hours after the crime was “recent”, but disagreeing with another that one month after a robbery was.
“In itself, possession of the stolen vehicle, a month after the robbery, in my view, is not so closely connected as to warrant the inference of involvement,” said the judge, saying other factors needed to be considered.
He said Madonsela’s explanation for possessing the vehicle was “dishonest”, but this wasn’t enough to call it recent enough to link to the robbery.
By the time he was sentenced over the vehicle, Madonsela was in jail serving 30 years for a 2008 crime.