Tsundzukani Mthombeni hides from the media as he walks out of Palmridge Magistrate's Court. Photo: Sharon Seretlo

Johannesburg - The National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) refused to divert the case of the pupil who shot dead a schoolmate he claimed had been bullying him for a long time.

The decision to go ahead and prosecute him has dashed the hopes of Tsundzukani Mthombeni’s lawyer, who has been trying since last year to ensure that his young client does not go through the rigorous court process.

Advocate William Karam, who was instructed by Legal Aid South Africa to handle the case, applied to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) for Mthombeni to be sent into one of the diversion programmes aimed at young people who have been accused of a crime. Instead of being prosecuted and spending time in prison, they enter programmes aimed at rehabilitating them.

When the DPP turned down their application, Karam appealed against the refusal to the NDPP. However, the NDPP responded a few days ago, saying Mthombeni was going to be tried for the murder of Nkululeko Ndlovu, 18.

Speaking outside the Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court on Monday, Karam said the NDPP sent a letter saying the matter could not be diverted because it did not meet the requirements of a diversion programme.

The letter also said the case was a high-profile one and that it would not be in the interest of justice to divert it.

“I am very disappointed because when you clearly look at the facts of the case, the accused was young and the deceased was recognised by everyone as a problem child – a delinquent. We are obviously upset that Ndlovu is dead, and because he was a bully we are not saying that he deserved to die.”

But he walked into the classroom, looking for the accused, and assaulted him, he said.

“There had been many complaints against the deceased, but the school did not do anything. I do not agree with the decision of the NDPP, it was a sense of helplessness that drove the accused to do what he did. What he did was wrong, but we don’t believe that going through the trial is helpful.”

Mthombeni faces charges of premeditated murder, the unlawful possession of a firearm as well as the unlawful possession of ammunition.

Mthombeni allegedly used his policewoman mother’s firearm to shoot Ndlovu in the head at Phineas Xulu Secondary School in Vosloorus. Ndlovu died at the scene.

The State alleges that Ndlovu and his friend Nkululeko Biyela went to Mthombeni’s classroom and approached him with the intention of fighting with him.

The trial was expected to start on October 13.

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The Star