Pretoria - A Soshanguve man asked a judge to have mercy on him and on the taxpayer by not sending him to jail for life on charges of murder and robbery.
Meschack Sono Hlazo, 33, told Judge Vivian Tlhapi that the tax implication for law-abiding citizens would be immense as they would have to pay a lot towards his stay in jail for life.
“The public would also not be interested to see me go to jail for life. They would want me to have a second chance,” Hlazo said in conducting his own argument in mitigation of sentence.
He told the judge that he is studying towards his Grade 12 while in jail and it would be of no use to him if he had to spend the bulk of his life behind bars.
While he never showed any remorse for killing 64-year-old Stephan Carl Mantha during a robbery in Kameeldrift, Hlazo said he “has not enjoyed life” since his arrest in 2008.
“I was overwhelmed by fear because of not knowing what is going to happen to me,” Hlazo told the judge.
However, upon hearing that he had to serve an effective 25 years in jail, the smartly dressed man in a black overcoat smiled broadly.
He continued smiling as he was led down the holding cells and inhaled on his asthma pump.
The elderly Mantha suffocated to death on October 20, 2007.
This was after Hlazo wound cellotape around his neck tightly.
Mantha was a manager at Fern Gold Furnishers, where Hlazo from time to time did building work. He often stayed on the premises when he worked there and knew Mantha well.
It was never revealed as to how he went about killing Mantha, as Hlazo denied any knowledge of the incident. He was, however, convicted on circumstantial evidence and because a Volkswagen Beetle which belonged to Mantha was found in the possession of one of his family members.
His girlfriend testified that the car was brought there by him.
Judge Tlhapi gave Hlazo the benefit of the doubt in not finding that he had pre-planned the attack. She, however, said it was an aggravating fact that Mantha had died a gruesome death.
She ordered that he serve an effective 25 years.