A Pretoria High Court judge has described the murder of 10-year-old Masego Kgomo as “a despicable and dastardly deed”.
Sentencing muti killer Brian Mangwale, 30, of Soshanguve, to six years for kidnapping and life imprisonment for murder, Judge Billy Motlhe said on Monday it was hard to believe that in this day and age there were people who could perform such deeds.
There were loud cheers in court after the sentencing, while some people in the packed court jeered at Mangwale, who smiled as he was being led to the holding cells.
He had shown little emotion when judgment was passed.
Judge Motlhe said: “The crimes you have committed are serious (in) the extreme… you and your co-conspirators took away the life of an innocent girl. For this, you stood to gain financially. What the court finds disturbing and gruesome is that it would appear that she was mutilated while still alive.”
Mangwale’s long sentence was welcomed by the Minister for Women, Children, and People with Disabilities, Lulu Xingwana.
Speaking outside the court after sentencing on Monday, she said Mangwale had to rot in jail for his actions.
“What is worrying is that his accomplices are still out there,” she said. “We are going to work hand in hand with the community and the police to make sure they are apprehended. The law will not rest until these people are brought to book.”
Family spokesman Bishop Ntshweu Chepape said no one should kill another person, especially not in the manner in which Masego was murdered.
“But as a family we are happy that (Mangwale) has been given a long sentence,” he said.
Masego’s mother, Kate, declined to comment.
The little girl disappeared on New Year’s Eve in 2009. Her body was found, mutilated, half-naked and decomposing, several days later in a stretch of veld and bush near the Soshanguve station.
Mangwale assisted the family, the local community and the police in the search for the missing child.
He eventually pointed out to the police dense bush next to the railway station in Soshanguve, where the child was found dead.
Judge Motlhe said Masego’s death had a “negative impact” on her family, who could not find closure because Mangwale refused to identify his co-conspirators.
“According to the social worker’s report, what was a family operating (optimally) has deteriorated as a result of the offence,” he said. “The mother no longer goes to church (with her husband) because she blames herself for what happened.”
Judge Motlhe said this had not been an easy case to preside over.
“A lot of emotions have been at play. This is due to the manner the child died,” he said.
Judge Motlhe said there were qualified people who could remove body parts and organs to save lives and not for financial gain and this was done within the confines of the law.
He said there was no scientific evidence that using human body parts and organs for muti could solve people’s problems.
“The objective is not to save lives but to make money. It is despicable that there are agents who are facilitating the kidnapping of children.”
Judge Motlhe said innocent people were demanding protection from law enforcement agencies and the courts against criminals who preyed on children.
“These criminals must be removed from society for their own safety and that of others.
“Failure to do that could lead to members of the community taking the law into their own hands.”
Mangwale had failed to take the court into his confidence by identifying his co-conspirators, Judge Motlhe said.
“What is also disturbing is that you assisted the family and members of the community to search for the child while you knew where she was and that she was dead. You played on the emotions of this family,” said Judge Motlhe.
The social workers’ reports indicated that Mangwale had not shown any remorse and that he did not want to take responsibility for his actions, he said.
Meanwhile, Judge Motlhe has criticised Mangwale’s Legal Aid advocate for submitting an application for leave to appeal to the registrar before sentence was handed down.
He said this bordered on serious misconduct.
“I see a lot of wrong things (in the application). This is a severe sentence and (Mangwale) deserves better,” he said, adding that he was not inclined to hear the application immediately just as a matter of convenience.
Judge Motlhe said the application did not address issues that were in his judgment.
“You need to get copies of the judgment first and then come back to court for argument. It is clear your application was not based on what was stated in the judgment.”
The application was not about emotions but about the law, Judge Motlhe said. He postponed the matter sine die, and said Legal Aid should assist Mangwale in obtaining the transcript of his judgment. - Pretoria News