Let the healing begin, says emotional Ngoepe

Published Sep 28, 2006


By Sibongakonke Shoba

Transvaal Judge President Bernard Ngoepe was still angry and bitter about the murder of his granddaughter Makgabo Matlala, he told reporters outside the Vereeniging circuit court on Thursday.

"The outcome of this case has confirmed that there is justice in this country," Ngoepe said.

He said the judge imposed a maximum sentence that was suitable.

"We would hope that from now, friends and relatives will refrain from conveying their condolences... It time for us to heal."

An emotional Ngoepe, flanked by his wife Daphney and his son in-law Steve Matlala, said he hoped that Magkabo's death and that of other children would awaken the nation to fight the scourge.

"What can we say... If there is any justification for this we are yet to know."

He said poverty and unemployment did not justify the murder of his granddaughter and the rape of her nanny.

"It is difficult to justify some of the crimes we see in this country," he said.

The three men who killed Makgabo were sentenced earlier.

The first accused, Johannes Siphiwe Molefe, 22, was sentenced to two life terms for rape and murder, and 20 years for robbery.

The second accused, Lucky Ndlovu, received a life sentence for murder, two life terms for repeated rape, and 20 years for robbery.

The third accused, Steve Tsietsi Mhlanga, was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for robbery and 10 years for taking part in the crime. The sentences will run concurrently.

Judge Gerhardus Hattingh said the accused deserved the harshest sentences possible. He said the men killed a young girl who could not defend herself.

They also raped an old woman, causing her trauma and embarrassment. She also had to deal with trauma of her employers (the Matlala family).

He said the concept of a life sentence was misleading to the public as prisoners were eligible for parole after spending 25 years in prison, depending on their behaviour.

He called on the government to institute democratic processes to determine the reinstatement of the death penalty.

Hattingh said, in his opinion, the crime statistics released this week were "crazy" because nothing had changed.

The court will advise the department of correctional services not to release the first two accused before they were 60 years old.

Makgabo's father wiped his eyes as the judge handed down the sentences.

Matlala was sitting in the front row of the public gallery with other members of his family, including Judge Ngoepe.

Ndlovu, the second accused, covered his head with a jacket during the sentencing. More than six policemen monitored court proceedings, and two were armed with rifles. - Sapa

Related Topics: