The state v Zakayo Francis Kimeze and 2 others Photo by Michael Walker

Cape Town - A self-proclaimed former Ugandan child soldier can’t think of why he should get a lesser sentence for the murder of Danish millionaire Preben Povlsen.

Francis Kimeze, 41, described his crime as a “rotten thing” during his mitigation of sentence in the Western Cape High Court on Wednesday.

He has been found guilty of murdering Povlsen, 72, and faces life imprisonment while his sisters, Stella Ssengendo, 43, and Maria Povlsen, 36 - the businessman’s widow - were convicted of being accessories to murder after the fact. Judge Rosheni Allie found the women had misled the police and cleaned the scene of the crime - Povlsen’s luxury Gordon’s Bay home.

Povlsen was killed in the early hours of January 14, 2008, his body stuffed in the boot of his car and then dumped along Otto du Plessis Drive. He’d been stabbed 48 times, had a broken neck and his body had been partially burnt.

Kimeze, who has 17 children, told the court he was a “useless person”. “My life has been very painfully destructive because I was born into a world of pain and hatred,” he said. “I have nothing reasonable enough to convince the court to give me a lesser sentence because I hurt my family…”

When prosecutor Mmatlhapi Tsheole asked Kimeze about rehabilitative programmes he had taken part in after his stint as a child soldier, he responded that this had “nothing to do” with the crime. “I have done something wrong and you can take it as it is,” he said.

He maintained, however, that he hadn’t intended to kill Povlsen or planned it.

Kimeze said he’d been abducted by the National Resistance Army when he was about 12, and worked as a child soldier until he was 16. This was when he’d undergone rehabilitation under the UN for a year.

Kimeze, an artist, said he made about $3 000 (R26 490) a month from selling his pieces to tourists. He used some of his earnings to support his 17 children - 14 in Uganda, two in South Africa and one in Malawi.

Neither Povlsen nor Ssengendo took the witness stand in mitigation of sentence.

Povlsen’s defence advocate, Nicolett McKenzie, argued that her client had two young children - an 11-year-old boy and a nine-year-old girl - from Preben Povlsen. The children now live in Denmark with his relatives.

McKenzie further argued that her client hadn’t partaken in “getting rid of the body” and that an appropriate sentence would be five years, which she asked to be suspended.

Ssengendo’s advocate, Ken Klopper, said his client had a 12-year-old son who loved her, that she suffered from health problems that would be exacerbated by prison life and that her family in Uganda depended on her financial contribution every month. But Tsheole is pushing for hefty sentences for the three siblings, all of whom are first offenders. She argued that the siblings, particularly Maria Povlsen, had been in a position of trust, which they’d abused.

Judge Allie is expected to hand down their sentences this afternoon.


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Cape Times