Durban - A FORMER Durban University of Technology student who deserted his studies for a life of crime was sentenced on Monday in the Pietermaritzburg High Court to life imprisonment.
Msizi Mbutho, 29, killed first-year industrial engineering DUT student Sandile Ndhlovu, 18, who was studying at a lecture theatre on the Steve Biko campus in Durban on September 9, by hitting him on the head with a hammer before robbing him.
In passing sentence, Judge Khosi Hadebe said it was no longer safe at any educational institute - “from pre-school all the way to universities it is not safe”.
“And if mercy would be granted in this case, it would be misplaced,” she said.
Speaking outside court after sentencing, Sandile’s father, Sibusiso Ndhlovu, 45, said for 10 days they were at Sandile’s bedside in ICU praying for a miracle.
“We were notified on September 10 that he was brain dead and were advised to take him off life support.
“We asked for more time and prayed that he would recover from his head injuries.
“I could not believe that the only child we had was gone.
“I now feel there is nothing that drives me to go to work because I worked hard to ensure a brighter future for him,” said Ndhlovu.
The hardest thing for him was when his son was no longer identified by his name but as a body number when he was transferred from one mortuary to another. “Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Christmas will never be the same without him,” he said.
The family, from Mpumalanga, were unhappy at the sentence, saying it would not bring back their son, but they were relieved it was all over.
Mbutho was on parole for house robberies he committed in 2014 when he went to DUT and attacked Sandile twice with a hammer and stole his cellphone and laptop.
Mbutho lived in Clermont.
The court heard that he was once a bright pupil who passed matric with distinctions and went to DUT to study social science but dropped out after he was in a car accident that broke both his legs.
He fully recovered, but that was when he started getting involved in crime.
Mbutho had last week pleaded guilty to robbing and killing Sandile. In his plea, read out by his lawyer, Irshad Khan, Mbutho said late in the afternoon he went to the campus to steal “any portable items of value”.
“I did so out of desperation as I had no job, no money and no prospects of a job to earn any money,” he said.
Yesterday, Khan asked the court to consider Mbutho’s personal circumstances - that his father died while Mbutho was in high school and his mother died in his first year at DUT.
State advocate Bonginkosi Mbokazi rejected this, saying Mbutho was given a second chance in life when he was granted parole after his previous conviction.
“He is 29 and he is educated and intelligent. He should have known better.
“His educational record shows that he is intelligent enough to know that what he did was wrong,” he argued.
He said Mbutho’s actions were unjustifiable and no parent should have to go through what Sandile’s parents had.
Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at the DUT, Alan Khan, said they were relieved that justice was served and that Mbutho was found guilty of the violent and tragic attack against Sandile.
“Whilst we know that this cannot bring back Sandile, we hope that his family, friends and classmates will be comforted in the knowledge that the suspect was apprehended, successfully convicted and appropriately sentenced for the vicious attack.