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Afrikaner right-wingers were delighted on Wednesday morning when the man who butchered their hero, Eugene Terre’Blanche, was jailed for life – plus another 15 years.
But Judge John Horn decided that the young farm worker Patrick Ndlovu’s case did not need a sledgehammer approach, and he gave him a two-year suspended sentence.
The judge handed down the sentences in the Ventersdorp Circuit Court on Wednesday morning, a ruling that left rightwing members elated and their marching band trumpeting Afrikaner tunes in the North West farming town.
He told Chris Mahlangu – the man convicted of murdering the AWB leader: “You have committed a heinous crime for which you must be punished. Your conduct amounted to a flagrant disregard for the deceased’s life.
“The attack on the deceased was premeditated. You had ample time to think of what you were doing, but proceeded with your actions. The purpose was to rob the deceased and evidently to kill him. With this in mind, you calculated and armed yourself with an iron rod, broke into the house and killed the deceased while he was peacefully asleep in his bed.
“A man’s home is supposed to be his castle. You invaded the sanctity of the deceased’s home and killed him in the most savage and cruel way.”
He said Mahlangu had failed to show “genuine remorse”, going “as far as accusing the deceased of sodomy and infecting you with the HI virus”.
The judge then sentenced him to life, and a further 15 years for breaking into Terre’Blanche’s home and robbing him.
The sentences are to run concurrently. But Mahlangu’s lawyer Advocate Khomotso Tlouana made an immediate application to be allowed to appeal the sentence and conviction.
Having acquitted Ndlovu on the murder charge, Judge Horn sentenced him to a two-year sentence suspended for five years on condition that he does not commit similar crimes.
He said: “I’m satisfied that your case is somewhat unique and does not require a sledgehammer approach. Moreover, you have expressed genuine remorse, shown signs of rehabilitation and most importantly, you have been in custody for two years and three months. For these reasons, I believe your situation deserves a non-custodial prison sentence.”
He said it was “not a case of going soft on crime”, but of dealing with each case individually.
“I believe you have served your sentence and punishing you further by imposing another custodial sentence would do more harm than good. I can understand that times have been hard for you. The situation at your parental home was anything but ideal.”
But the judge warned Ndlovu, who was 15 at the time the crime was committed, to stay away from crime and bad influences.
“There are many examples of people from poor backgrounds who have pulled themselves together and made a success of their lives.
“There is no reason why you, considering your circumstances, should not do the same. Let this be a clear warning to you not to involve yourself with crime.
“Take this chance you’ve been given with both hands,” he said.