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Durban - The father of a Durban bank trainee, who died when a concrete slab thrown from a bridge smashed into her face, said the 10-year sentence imposed on his daughter’s killers was no consolation.
As the trio were hearing their fate in the Durban Regional Court, on Monday - their anguished families in tears - Vukile Zuma spent the day at his daughter, Siphesihle Zola Zuma’s, grave.
“To be honest, the sentence doesn’t mean anything. It won’t change anything,” he said. Zuma offered his condolences to the perpetrators’ families, saying they were facing a loss similar to his.
In his pre-sentencing report, Zuma said the emotional heartache and pain of the tragedy had never subsided.
His loss was further aggravated by the accuseds’ refusal to take responsibility for their actions.
He said he remained convinced that the accused were contracted by some breakdown service to “create an accident”.
At the time Siphesihle, 24, had been in the passenger seat in the car of her colleague, Gertrude Mankaba. They were travelling under the Candela Road Bridge on the N3 when the slab smashed through the windscreen and hit her in the face and chest. She suffered extensive injuries and died in hospital the next day.
In her pre-sentencing report, Mankaba said that she was terrified of driving at night and under bridges. She was still receiving trauma counselling.
Siphesihle was a “shining star” studying towards her BCom honours degree when she was killed in November 2010, prosecutor Krishen Shah told the court.
Shah said the three - Lucky Leon Khumalo and Brandon Phillip, both 19, and a 17-year-old who cannot be named because he is a minor - had not “come clean” about their heinous act, nor did they apologise to the victim’s family. They were convicted of murder in April.
Magistrate Thomas Nhleko found that their lack of remorse throughout the trial was an aggravating factor in determining sentence.
“From the date of conviction to today the accused had ample time to approach the family of the deceased and apologise,” he said.
“It is clear up to now that you don’t accept that your actions were wrongful.”
Finding compelling and substantial circumstances that justified a stiffer sentence, Nhleko sentenced Khumalo to 10 years direct imprisonment. Phillip was sentenced to three years at the Ekuseni Youth Development Centre in Newcastle after which he will serve seven years in prison.
The minor was sentenced to five years at the centre and five years in prison.
Nhleko said it was in the interest of society that the sentences sent out a clear message to other would-be offenders that if caught, they would be dealt with severely.
He said this was not an isolated crime and in most instances perpetrators of such offences were not caught. Emotions ran high in court as the three friends were escorted to the holding cells, their families watching in disbelief, before bursting into tears.