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Nelspruit - A self-proclaimed Mpumalanga pastor who bludgeoned a suspected thief to death was jailed for 15 years by the Nelspruit Regional Court on Monday.
Mandla Esau Dube, from Mganduzweni Trust outside Hazyview, was found guilty of killing Sabelo Mlombo, 27, on September 11, 2011, a Sapa correspondent reported.
Mlombo, also from Mganduzweni Trust, was beaten to death after being accused of stealing Dube’s 7000 litre water tank.
Dube, who was 46-years-old when he committed the murder, was a pastor for the General Church of God at Chochocho Trust.
At the time of his arrest, he was also a technical manager for community projects in the Mpumalanga co-operative governance department.
Magistrate Willie Wilkens said on Monday that Dube was not a true pastor.
“It is hard to believe you are a pastor in the way you act. You are not a true pastor, in terms of the Bible.
“You took the law into your own hands. There are no compelling and substantial circumstances for a lesser sentence. You acted as a judge and executor. You found him guilty and sentenced him to death. Jungle justice will not be accepted,” said Wilkens.
The magistrate said Dube was a violent man with a previous conviction for assault, for which he was fined R3500 or 90 days in jail.
“That sentence was never a deterrent as you are now faced with another assault case which is more serious than the previous one.
“What is more aggravating in this present case is that you showed no remorse. You never played opened cards for the court and you tried to conceal what exactly happened on that day,” Wilkens told Dube.
He said murder was a serious offence and there was a minimum sentence of 15 years, unless there were compelling and substantial circumstances.
“When you heard of the theft of your tank, you just lost temper and chased the deceased, took him to your home. In your version, you said you used a broomstick to beat him up on his knees to stop him from escaping.
“An eye-witness and the deceased's uncle told the court it was your son who gave you the pick handle. You used it to beat the deceased until his uncle could not bear to look. That was inhumane and cruel,” Wilkens said.
The magistrate said there was no room for calling the murder an accident.
“You were so outraged that you even did not listen to your brother-in-law when he asked you to stop. You were so aggressive that even the deceased's uncle Samson Mthembu could not stop you.
“When the deceased was taken to the police station, despite the injuries, you still deemed it necessary to tie him up. That was totally unnecessary,” Wilkens said.
Wilkens said that when Dube took Mlombo to the police, he was in a state of paralysis.
“You tied him up only to conceal your brutal assault. You tell the court the deceased sustained injuries after he jumped into a two-metre donga and want the court to believe that? You have taken a wrong path,” he said.
Wilkens said there was no proof that Mlombo did steal the tank.
He said Dube, after suspecting Mlombo, could have taken him to the police and let the courts decide whether he was a thief.
Dube's defence will appeal the sentence on Tuesday.