High court deals ’killer minor’s’ appeal huge blow

By Siyavuya Mzantsi Time of article published Oct 21, 2021

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CAPE TOWN - The Western Cape has turned down an appeal by a murderer challenging his “shockingly harsh and inappropriate” 15-year prison sentence.

He said the trial court gave no due consideration to the fact that he was a “minor” (17 years old at the time of the commission of the offences) and that he was sacrificed at the altar of retribution, as opposed to that of rehabilitation.

He failed to complete Grade 9.

The man, now 20 and whose name the court withheld, pleaded guilty to the charges, among them murder, two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The court papers show that he admitted to threatening one of his victims, a Mr Beneke, with a knife before robbing him of his cellphone on December 3, 2018.

On the same day, he threatened his second victim, a Mr Leotha, with a knife and robbed him of his firearm, which he used to kill a Mr Agnew two days later. He admitted that he shot and killed Agnew while he was seated in his vehicle.

Four gunshot wounds were found in his chest and neck area, according to the post-mortem report.

Western Cape High Court Judge Derek Wille said that while the man regretted the incident, he “showed no visible emotion” when reflecting upon the murder.

“The ‘domino effect’ of the murder of Mr Agnew was set out in the social worker’s report. Briefly, the following bears mentioning: that Mrs Agnew was emotionally destroyed by the loss of her husband; that, as a result, she suffers from eating and sleeping disorders; that she suffers from depression; that they, as a family, are struggling to cope both emotionally and financially with their loss; and that she has been admitted to a mental health-care facility for in-patient treatment,” said the judge.

From the record of the proceedings in the trial court, it was clear that the man, to some extent planned the crimes, said the judge.

“The record does not reflect any suggestion that the appellant showed any form of genuine remorse at all. Regrettably, he does not exhibit any real insight into the seriousness of the crimes committed by him. This, in turn, goes to the issue of his moral blameworthiness.

“The (trial) court considered both the mitigating and the aggravating factors in connection with these offences and referred to these clearly in the judgment on sentence. In addition, the court a quo highlighted the violence and the threat of violence that was used against both the complainants by the appellant and that the appellant could have injured the complainants. Moreover, it was accentuated that this type of crime was prevalent in the area of the jurisdiction of the lower court,.

He said child offenders deserved to be treated differently from adult offenders.

“The court of first instance was very much alive to the content of the probation officers report and took this into account when it imposed the sentences upon the offender. The sentences imposed upon the appellant in connection with the crime of robbery with aggravating circumstances, in these peculiar circumstances, must accordingly in some measure, also reflect a censure to this conduct and behaviour.

“The victims of these crimes were respectively robbed of a mobile phone and a firearm. These items are not and were not necessities. I am unable to unearth any misdirection or irregularity on the part of the court a quo when it imposed the sentences upon the offender in this matter. I also find no room to interfere with the sentences imposed in this matter,” said Judge Wille.

Cape Times

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