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The fact that the killer of a 79-year-old pensioner had genuine remorse for murdering an elderly man gave him a lifeline.
Instead of being sentenced to a possible life term, Patrick Albert Maila received an effective 18 year jail sentence for the murder and robbery of Josiah Malaza.
Judge Mmonoa Teffo said the fact that a defenceless 79-year-old man was brutally murdered in his own home, was an aggravating factor. She said people were entitled to be safe in their own homes and warned that intruders would feel the full brunt of the law if they did not adhere to it.
But the judge accepted that Maila was truly sorry for what he had done. She said this, along with his background, warranted a lesser sentence.
She sentenced him to 18 years for the murder and 12 years for the robbery, but ordered that he serve an effective 18 years.
The father of one only managed to pass the old Standard 5 at school and he made a living as a self-employed handyman.
Maila, who pleaded guilty, explained that he was on his way home from a tavern on September 21, last year. As he passed the home of Malaza in a rural area north of Pretoria, he decided to go and ask the elderly man for the money he was owed for cleaning his yard earlier.
He knocked on the door, but nobody answered. He then kicked open the door, as by then had decided to rob the man.
Malaza woke up and reached for his walking stick. Mailia grabbed it out of his hands and hit him twice on the head with it, before taking his home theatre system.
He then went home to sleep.
When he woke up next morning he saw police outside the home of the elderly man, and realised that he had killed him.
He told his mother and sisters what he had done, before handing himself over to the police.
Maila said he was riddled with guilt and he was terribly sorry for what he had done.