Kutumela jailed for pregnant teen’s murder

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iol news pic Thato Kutumela sentenced INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS Thato Kutumela, who was found guilty of the murder and rape of his model girlfriend, Zanele Khumalo, during his trial. File picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - A 26-year-old man was sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria on Friday to 20 years in prison for the murder and rape of pregnant teenager Zanele Khumalo.

“The sentence I impose is the following. On count one, murder, you are sentenced to 20 years imprisonment,” Judge Johan Kruger said.

“I'm of the view that the sentences that I have instituted meet the proportionality test... I'm convinced that this is an instance that where to impose the minimum prescribed sentence would not serve justice.”

Thato Kutumela stood in the dock, wearing white, as Kruger told him that he was also sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for rape and six months imprisonment for theft.

“Sentences imposed regarding count two and three will run concurrently with count one,” he said.

Kutumela was also declared unfit to posses a firearm.

As Kruger read out the sentencing there were people saying “yes” and “amen”.

As Kutumela made his way down to the cells the people in court started clapping hands. A member of the ANC Woman's League said a prayer in court afterwards.

Khumalo's family members, including her parents, sat in the front row of the public gallery wearing black T-shirts bearing her face and the words “Nothing was in vain” printed on the back.

Kutumela was earlier found guilty of murdering and raping the mother of his unborn child in November.

He was also found guilty of stealing the teenager's night clothes and underwear to hide the fact that he had raped her.

She was found dead at her parents' home in Garsfontein, Pretoria east, in April 2011.

Kutumela did not testify, but claimed in his plea explanation they had consensual sex that morning and that she was alive and well when he left.

On Friday, Kruger said Kutumela was within his rights when he chose not to testify.

He said this made deciding on an appropriate sentence much more complicated.

Kutumela initially claimed, at the magistrate's court, that he had been at work all day.

Khumalo's naked body was discovered under a blanket on her bed when her parents arrived home from work.

They rushed her to hospital, but she had by then already been dead for about six hours.

Kruger said on Friday that “when he convicted Kutumela in November it was held that he was present at the scene when the injuries that resulted in her death were inflicted.

“Based on that I held that the State proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“I'm of the view that the rehabilitation and the reform of the accused is an available option,” he said.

At the start of sentencing procedures, Kruger compared two reports, one compiled by a clinical psychologist and another by a social worker and probation officer.

Kruger said the fact was that Kutumela had withheld evidence he told to the experts.

“Hence it is evident that the accused was prepared to lie and or concoct versions... in order to create distance from himself and what happened to the accused,” said Kruger.

Kruger also said society was “sick and tired” of violent crimes and said sentencing in such crimes should serve as a deterrent to criminals.

He said Kutumela's past, the fact that his grandfather who he was close to had died, and his parents' broken marriage and domestic violence that he witnessed at a young age, had an effect on him and his relationships.

Sapa


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