At his original trial in 2019, Kyle Esau, now 34, had pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting and robbing Rowena Muthien of her handbag. File picture: Stephen Hird/REUTERS
At his original trial in 2019, Kyle Esau, now 34, had pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting and robbing Rowena Muthien of her handbag. File picture: Stephen Hird/REUTERS

Handbag thief's 18-month jail sentence slashed to eight months on appeal

By Mwangi Githahu Time of article published Aug 5, 2021

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Cape Town - A handbag thief sentenced to 18 months in prison by a magistrate after he broke the conditions of his 36-month correctional supervision, has received respite after a Western Cape High Court judge reduced his sentence to eight months.

At his original trial in 2019, Kyle Esau, now 34, had pleaded guilty to the charge of assaulting and robbing Rowena Muthien of her handbag.

In the statement he made on his arrest, he said he had seen Muthien walking in the street, approached her and grabbed her handbag off her shoulder. While trying to run away, he was stopped in his tracks by a taxi driver who blocked his way.

Esau had then handed the stolen bag to the taxi driver and tried to continue running but was immediately apprehended and taken to Bishop Lavis police station where he was charged with robbery and later detained.

Muthien arrived at the police station and laid a case against the accused after which she was given back her handbag.

However, when the matter appeared before the magistrate in September 2019, Muthien told the court that she had forgiven Esau and begged the court to give him another chance as she had learnt that he was a breadwinner.

Esau was sentenced to 36 months correctional supervision plus a sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment wholly suspended for five years on condition he was not found guilty of robbery or attempted robbery during the period of suspension.

However, in March Bellville Community Corrections brought an application requesting the court to consider an alternative sentence as Esau had failed to comply with the conditions of his sentence by changing his address without consulting the correctional officer.

Responding to the application, Esau admitted leaving his given address and moving to Rondebosch after his mother died. He pleaded for mercy but after considering the matter, the court imposed an alternative sentence of 18 months’ direct imprisonment.

Esau appealed against the sentence in the High Court, where acting Judge James Lekhuleni set aside the 18 month imprisonment.

Judge Lekhuleni said: “After perusing the record, I was satisfied that the conviction of the accused was in accordance with justice.

“However, after consideration of the circumstances of this case, I held the view that the cumulative effect of the whole sentence was disproportionate and disturbingly inappropriate.”

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Cape Argus

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