Cape Town – A man who robbed a pedestrian of his cellphone and sunglasses on Christmas Day, after first wishing him a merry Christmas and shaking his hand, was jailed for 10 years on Wednesday. 

Abdul Ely, 26, appeared in the Parow Regional Court, before magistrate Constance Nziweni, who said he had in fact qualified for a minimum sentence of 15 years. 

The facts that he had already spent more than a year in custody, and that the robbery was not the worst kind that the court had encountered, justified a less severe sentence, she told him. 

The incident happened in a street in Bishop Lavis in the year 2015. Ely, on a bicycle, stopped alongside the victim, wished him well and shook his hand and then rode on – only to turn back and rob him at gunpoint. 

It turned out that the gun was a toy, but the victim was not aware of this. Ely claimed that the victim had in fact given him his cellphone and sunglasses as Chrismas presents, but the magistrate said it was absurd and outrageous to even suggest that the victim would do so with a complete stranger who had stopped to wish him a merry Christmas. 

After the sentence was pronounced, Ely stepped out of the dock with a defiant slouch, and pulled aside window blinds in the court room to have a last look at the free world outside. 

The magistrate said the country was under siege with violent crime, and that people like Ely thought nothing of just helping themselves to the belongings of innocent people. 

She added: “These days, people cannot walk in the street feeling free and safe – innocent people have to keep looking over their shoulders.” 

She said Ely had begun his career in crime 10 years ago, and that he had already notched up four previous convictions for theft and one for armed robbery.” 

He had failed to benefit from four “second chances” with suspended prison sentences, and was then jailed for the first armed robbery. The current armed robbery was perpetrated whilst he was out on parole, she said. 

The magistrate said Ely had pleaded not guilty, and in doing so had compelled the victim to attend the proceedings in order to testify. The victim had had to relive the trauma he had experienced on Christmas Day two years ago, she said. She agreed with prosecutor Barry van der Berg that Ely had shown no remorse. African News Agency