More than a year after their convictions on charges of murder and attempted murder, the killers of billionaire businessman Wandile Bozwana are eventually facing their punishment, which is expected this week after the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria yesterday started with sentencing proceedings.
The defence presented pre-sentencing reports for two of the accused, Sipho Patrick Hudla and Robert Mutapa. The court is expected to receive the pre-sentencing reports today regarding Mamelodi businessman Vusi “Khekhe” Mathibela and co-accused Bonginkosi Paul Khumalo.
Mathibela’s advocate yesterday indicated that his client would take the stand to testify in mitigation of sentence.
A probation officer, meanwhile, read out the reports of Hudla and Mutapa yesterday, in which both asked the court for mercy in sentencing them.
The probation officer, who may not be identified in terms of a court order, said neither man had displayed any remorse for the 2015 killing of Bozwana, as they were still vehemently denying any part in his murder and the attempted murder of his business associate, Mpho Baloyi.
The court was also told the families of Hudla and Mutapa were extremely shocked after their arrests in 2015 and their convictions last year, and described both men as caring and valuable members of society.
Both sets of families said it was not in the men’s natures to commit murder. They asked Judge Papi Mosopa to show them mercy when he sentenced them, and they said if the men were not sentenced to a prison term, they would take care of them.
Hudla is a father of nine, of whom three children had meanwhile died, and Mutapa is a father of six. According to the pre-sentencing reports, the children suffered most from their fathers being in prison, and many of them could not finish school due to financial constraints.
Both accused were taxi drivers and later owned their own taxis prior to the killing of Bozwana. They told the probation officer they had lost everything. They described the extreme hardships they have faced while being in jail awaiting trial for the past seven years.
But they said the past year was especially gruelling, as they have been locked-up in C-Max prison since their convictions. They said they were locked in a tiny cell for 23 hours a day, with only two minutes in which to shower.
They added that these conditions had both mentally and physically taken a toll on them. They are allowed very few visits with family in jail, and only through a glass panel. Both said they have nothing to look forward to in life, and the highlight for them is when they are brought to court, where they can at least see their families from the dock, sitting in the public gallery.
The prosecution is, meanwhile, expected to call various witnesses this week, including Bozwana’s wife and family members, to testify in aggravation of sentence.
Bozwana’s widow, Tsholofelo Bozwana, and his business partner, Mpho Baloyi, who was shot during the murder, were awaiting closure. Both were also waiting for their victim impact reports to be handed to court as part of the pre-sentencing proceedings.
Bozwana was gunned down in 2015 on the Garsfontein off-ramp off the N1 when he and Baloyi returned from shopping.
The motive for the murder was never revealed in court.