Durban - The family of two teenage brothers convicted of raping and murdering a child in a cemetery have expressed their dissatisfaction at the sentences handed down on Wednesday.
The family declined to speak to the media, but they could be heard outside the Pietermaritzburg High Court courtroom lamenting the “unfairness” of the sentences and were seen to be visibly upset.
The brothers, together with an accomplice, Kyrone Spalding, 22, were convicted for their roles in the rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl in Pietermaritzburg.
The 19-year-old was found guilty of murder, while his 16-year-old brother and Spalding were found guilty of rape only.
Spalding was sentenced to 18 years for rape. The younger brother was sentenced to 10 years - four of which will be served at a youth detention facility - while his older brother was sentenced to 18 years for murder.
Pietermaritzburg High Court Acting Judge Madlala Xolo convicted the three, from Woodlands, in connection with the July 2011 rape and murder of Nomathemba Xaba in Mountain Rise Cemetery.
The 19-year-old may not be named in order to protect the identity of his minor brother. He and his younger brother were 17 and 14 at the time of the offence.
All three accused initially pleaded not guilty.
Spalding later admitted he had raped Nomathemba.
He told the court in his testimony that he did not know whether the girl was alive or dead when he raped her.
The court heard the older brother had grabbed Nomathemba and pulled her to a space among some bushes, and the other two had followed.
Spalding and the younger brother took turns in raping the girl while the older brother kept watch.
The 19-year old brother, who had maintained his innocence throughout the trial, confessed to murdering the girl this week when he testified in mitigation of sentence.
The teen admitted to beating and kicking the young girl in the face, body and head.
The post-mortem report indicated that the girl had died of a brain haemorrhage.
The teen also extended an apology to the girl’s family for what he had done.
However, Judge Xulu said that he could not take this “sudden change of heart” as a genuine sign of remorse.
The judge said the teen had not taken the court into his confidence and explained why he had killed the girl.
“The rape and murder of this child was a brazen act, committed in a very callous and brutal manner. I have no doubt that this incident sent shock waves through the community. One only has to see the police photos of the victim’s body and one is filled with a sense of indignation and shock,” the judge said.
All three boys admitted to drug and alcohol use and all three have been diagnosed as “slow learners” who dropped out of school at an early age.
A social worker’s report on the brothers indicated that a “lack of parental control and guidance” was also to blame for their behaviour.
“The circumstances of this case are very tragic. The life of a young girl has been taken and the lives of three youths have been ruined,” the judge said.