File picture: Independent Media

Tlhabane - A Rustenburg miner was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for the murder of his girlfriend at the Bafokeng Magistrate's Court in Tlhabane near Rustenburg on Wednesday.

Magistrate Amanda Roos sentenced William Mthimkhulu to 15 years in prison and declared him unfit to possess a firearm. She said there were no compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years.

She said there was no law that state that first offenders should be sentenced to suspended or non-custodial sentences.

"There is no compelling circumstances to deviate from the  prescribed minimum sentence. Your are the breadwinner of your three minor children, but you are not the primary caregiver. Two of the children are under the care of their grandmothers, the one is under the care of an aunt."

Mthimkhulu, 38, of Lethabong near Rustenburg was convicted of killing Mpho Mthini after he pleaded guilty on July 7.

In his plea, Mthimkhulu told the court that he was in his sober senses when he stabbed his 25-year-old girlfriend in the back after they had an argument in Lethabong near Rustenburg on December 4, 2016. 

He then drove with the body to the Rustenburg police station where he reported the matter and handed himself to the police.

The court said although he told the probation officer that he was remorseful, he did not attempt to take Mthini to a medical facility.

"You drove several hours with the deceased, you drove to Brits before you decided to drove to Rustenburg to hand yourself over to the police. She died a painful slow death. The deceased was your girlfriend and mother of your child. You did not take her to hospital," said Roos.

The court further ruled that his three minor children would not suffer financially as they could apply for child support or foster care grant from the government.

Mitigating for sentence last week, Mthimkhulu had pleaded with the court not to sent him to custodial sentence stating that he was contributing R4100 every month to support his three children.

Mthimkhulu winked to friends and relatives in the packed courtroom, as he was led down to the holding cells.

Mthini's uncle Don Mthini said they welcome the court sentence although it could not bring back his niece.

"We respect the court, the 15 years sentence meted on him will not bring back our child, while he still has a second chance [in life]. In seven years he will be out, with good behaviour he could be in the streets after serving four years. Our child will never come back," he said outside court.