Durban - A clinical psychologist was of the view that a 14-year-old schoolboy who killed another boy who was bullying him was emotionally affected by the murder and was not destined for a life of crime, the Pietermaritzburg High Court heard on Wednesday.
Clinical psychologist Dr Anthony Pillay had interviewed the boy in December following a request by magistrate Rose Magwera for pre-sentencing reports.
The teenager had pleaded guilty last year to killing Umsilinga Primary School pupil Akhona Nakile, 15, the attempted murder of a 17-year-old from the same school (who cannot be named because he is a minor) and to being in possession of an unlawful firearm and ammunition, in November 2014.
Nakile was shot in the neck. The bullet exited and hit the other pupil in the cheek. The incident took place after school, outside school premises. At the time, police suspected the motive to be related to gang violence.
But Magwera accepted the killer’s plea and his version of events, which was that he had had enough of being bullied.
Pillay said the boy had an ongoing conflict with Nakile and his friends because of a girl he liked. He had not seen them for more than two weeks before the shooting. The day he took his father’s gun to school, he had no intention to use it.
When he met the other boys, an argument ensued. One of them took out a knife and he produced the gun.
“A possible reason for carrying the firearm could have been to keep it as a show of strength.”
Pillay said the boy was 14-and-a-half at the time. His ability to restrain himself and control his impulses was not developed. He said research in the past 10 years had shown that a portion of the brain responsible for this type of behaviour did not develop fully until the early twenties. He said had the gun not been available, it was unlikely the boy would have committed the crime.
He added that the boy had not learnt proper problem-solving skills.
“He is upset and saddened by the crime.”
Pillay said a purely punitive sentence would not benefit him. He should receive psychological intervention. The boy showed no signs of mental disorder or disability and had engaged in age-appropriate activities.
A social worker recommended that he get jail time coupled with correctional supervision. The case was adjourned to April. The teenager was remanded to a place of safety.