Durban - A man who robbed two “poor men” and got away with only a cellphone and R20 has appealed against his “excessive” 21-year sentence since he did not get much from the robbery. But he had his appeal turned down, with the judge saying it might be little to some, but to others it may be all they have.
MacBeth Matlaopane felt aggrieved about his 21-year jail term for the two robberies committed on the same day.
He deserved a far lesser sentence, as he had managed to get very little loot and had been only 21 when he committed the crimes on November 15, 2010, he argued. It was not stated in the judgment where the robberies had been carried out or in which court he had been sentenced.
The robber said the lower court should also have taken into account that he was a first time offender.
Matlaopane did not dispute his guilt and only appealed against his sentence. He was convicted in August 2011 for robbery with aggravating circumstances and attempted armed robbery.
In the first robbery Matlaopane and two friends confronted their victim, Morgan Ngwenya, as he walked down a street. While Matlaopane was not armed, his friends each carried a knife and a firearm.
The man with the gun pointed it at Ngwenya and threatened to “shoot his head off” if he did not hand over his money and keep quiet. They took his cellphone and R20. A while later, on the same day, the group confronted Aaron Nkosi by pointing a firearm at him.
He had no money on him and they left, without taking anything.
Acting Judge C Cambanis, in turning down Matlaopane’s bid, said it appeared from the facts that he and his friends preyed on the victims. Sending a clear message to would-be robbers, she cited another judge who said during a robbery conviction: “Those who intend to embark on this apparently profitable business, must know that if they should be caught, they are not going to be let off lightly, however much they be first offenders, however small the amount of money they find in the purse.”
Regarding Matlaopane and his mates, Judge Cambanis said: “Didn’t intend to rob people of small amounts of money. It just so happened that their targets were carrying small amounts, or no money.
“It may appear that the sentence is disproportionate to the amount of money robbed, but this is not true. The amounts stolen might be insignificant in some circles, but not to Mr Ngwenya. In robbing the complainants, each had a gun pointed at them and had been threatened with a knife. The element of violence is significant in deciding sentence.”