Durban — The State argued that there were no substantial and compelling circumstances for the court to deviate from the minimum sentence of life imprisonment for convicted murderer Lethukuthula Ngwenya who killed an Independent Media employee during a robbery and hijacking.
Ngwenya, 24, had his defence in mitigation of sentence present to the court that he was young at the time of the killing and had already spent a year and ten months in custody; he wanted to spend time with his child who was born while he was in prison.
“What about the deceased, who was a father of three children who are now without a father,” said State prosecutor Kaystree Ramsamujh in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court on Friday.
Magistrate Ravi Pillay sentenced Ngwenya to life imprisonment for the murder of Bongumusa Prince Mavuso and 15 years for robbery with aggravated circumstances. Both sentences will run concurrently.
“The deceased in this case was a good Samaritan who acceded to the request of the witnesses to transport them to the river for a traditional ritual where the accused robbed them and killed the victim,” said Ramsamujh.
Murder and robbery were among the most serious and prevalent crimes in the country, she added.
“This is evident from the number of such cases we have on our court roll daily. Society needs to be protected from people like the accused. The preservation of human life is of paramount importance,” she said.
Highlighting the aggravating circumstances, in this case, Ramsamujh said the accused acted in common purpose even though the other two suspects were still at large.
“The deceased at the time of the robbery where he was pointed at with a firearm did not resist and surrendered his belongings, but he was still shot at by the accused. The accused has shown not a shred of remorse.”
She said although Ngwenya was a first offender it did not mean he could not be incarcerated because, for this type of offence with the victim being killed during the course of a robbery, fell within the ambit of the Minimum Sentence Act where the penalty is life imprisonment.
“The accused had indicated as substantial and compelling factors that he was 21 years old at the time of the commission of the crimes and that he needed to spend time with his child who was born during his incarceration, and that he had already spent more than a year in custody. These are no substantial and compelling factors, I ask for the minimum sentence to be imposed as it is a fitting sentence for this crime.”
Ramsamujh said communities observed the sentences meted out by the courts and placed their confidence in the courts to see justice served.
“Communities look to the courts to hand down sentences that will deter like-minded people. Sentences must reflect that the court’s intention is to protect communities.”
Mavuso’s sister, Nonhlanhla Mavuso, gave evidence in aggravation of sentence, telling the court that the deceased was her only brother and he was taking care of the family financially.
“He was also providing for his three children and fiancée. I ask the court to impose a sentence of life imprisonment because as a family we want justice served as we have not yet healed from this ordeal. This is difficult for us in the household as we now have no male figure at home, our father died when we were younger,” she said.
The State also handed in the victim-impact statement of Mavuso’s mother, Jabulisile Mavuso. In it she painted a picture of the toil she faced in having to bury her son whom she described as the engine of the family.
“We have not got over the grief and the pain from the loss till this day,” she said.
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