File photo: African News Agency (ANA)
Witsand resident Nzimani Tolbati has been sentenced to 20 years behind bars for the murder of two men, Songezo Nqubelani and Sibusiso Lubanga. The two had been accused of robbery in 2015.

Tolbati’s co-accused, Madodomzi Butshingi, was sentenced to an effective two years in jail for assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

Tolbati and Butshingi were part of a group of residents arrested and charged with the murders of the two young men. The four other accused were acquitted of the charges.

The two victims allegedly robbed Butshingi and Berentinia Christina Swarts on June 13, 2015.

Butshingi alleges that the pair came to see him at his shack a day after the alleged robbery. An argument arose and residents assaulted the two in a deadly attack.

Tolbati is alleged to have been the leader of the group who assaulted the duo as he attempted to set them alight.

In handing down sentence, Judge Nape Dolamo said Tolbati had substantial and compelling circumstances in his favour as he had no previous convictions, was a first offender, alcohol played a role in his actions and he has been in prison for three years.

“Vigilantism and mob justice have no place in a democratic society. We have government institutions tasked with the responsibility of dealing with crimes.

“We have police who are tasked with apprehending offenders and bring them to the courts of law,” the judge said.