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Sentencing Anni Dewani’s killer – Xolile Mngeni – is the hardest task Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Henney faces.
Judge Henney said in open court on Monday that it was easy to convict Mngeni of premeditated murder and aggravated robbery but sentencing the terminally ill man was difficult.
“The difficulty I have with this matter is that this (sentencing) is the most difficult part of this case and the accused has not [shown] a shred of remorse. I would’ve expected someone like him, with his back against the wall, who made a [tell-all] statement to show remorse,” Judge Henney said.
The judge also made reference to Mngeni’s accomplices Zola Tongo and Mziwamadoda Qwabe, who each pleaded guilty to the November 13, 2010 murder and struck a deal with the State.
While Tongo is serving 18 years in jail, Qwabe was sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
Sentencing was not “a mathematical equation” but he had to consider the facts before him, the judge said. They included the seriousness of the offence, the interest of society and the fact that Mngeni is 25, a first offender and recovering from a brain tumour.
The defence called one witness, radiation oncologist Dr Jeannette Parkes, to testify in mitigation.
Parkes said Mngeni was first admitted to Groote Schuur Hospital’s casualty ward on May 19 last year. According to his medical history, he had severe headaches and double vision five months before admission.
Parkes said Mngeni was, in the same month, diagnosed with an unusual malignant tumour which originates from the pineal gland situated centrally in the brain.
He had surgery to remove the tumour on July 9 last year, and later, a combination of chemo and radiation therapy. A post-treatment scan conducted on May 15 this year showed that what was left of the tumour had disappeared and the deposits which spread to his spinal column were no longer visible.
Mngeni had reacted well to treatment but there was a real risk of it re-occurring and if it did, it could be fatal. “One in five people will survive five years with this disease,” Parkes said.
Mngeni’s lawyer, Matthews Dayimani, argued that Judge Henney should find that substantial and compelling circumstances existed to justify a deviation from the prescribed minimum of life imprisonment.
But State advocate Shareen Riley disagreed, saying Mngeni was not remorseful and had in a callous manner gone to the V&A Waterfront hours after the murder to buy expensive clothing.
Riley submitted a victim impact report in which Dewani’s father, Vinod Hindocha, said Dewani’s death had caused his family a lot of pain. He said all her family wanted was to know what exactly happened and why.
“Words cannot describe how painfully difficult it has been for us,” Hindocha said in the report.
Mngeni is expected to be sentenced next Wednesday.