Three men have been arrested after an attempted house robbery in Orchards, Joburg.

 Two days after being released on a presidential pardon last month, a screwdriver-wielding man robbed two people on Kloof Street in the city, and was sent back to jail this week.

It took just five weeks for Sibusiso Mthethwa, 22, of Philippi, to find his way back behind bars, after he was one of more than 37 000 prisoners granted special remission of their sentences by President Jacob Zuma as part of the April 27 Freedom Day celebrations.

He had been serving 18 months for housebreaking, and was pardoned on May 14.

Mthethwa admitted in court that on May 16 he had robbed two people of their cellphones and a handbag.

A security guard caught Mthethwa and police arrested him.

He abandoned a bail application in the magistrate’s court and his case went to the regional court where he pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated robbery on Wednesday.

In her judgment, magistrate Wilma van der Merwe said Mthethwa faced 15 years in jail for each of two counts, but said his case fell in the lower scale of armed robberies.

Van der Merwe was not convinced by Mthethwa’s lawyer’s argument that he was destitute.

She had, however, found there were substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years in jail, and sentenced him to nine years direct imprisonment. Two years were suspended for five years.

Mthethwa has two weeks to appeal.

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Cape Argus