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I would have imposed the death penalty - judge

By unknown | Dec 12, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Canaan Mdletshe

Hlokohloko Primary School principal Anton Mathenjwa, 43, and his two hired hitmen, Bhekani Gumede, 32, and Philani Qwabe, 37, who shot and killed two teachers will spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

Yesterday Pongola high court Judge Jan Combrink sentenced them to two life-terms each and an additional 43 years for the teachers' murder early this year.

The judge also warned that the nature of the murders, had it been before 1994, would have prompted him to hand the offenders a death sentence. The harsh sentence was met with jubilation from the friends and the family of the dead women inside the court room.

Deputy Principal Phindile S'mangele Ntuli and her colleague, Philile Mthenjana, were killed by the two hitmen, Gumede and Qwabe, after Mathenjwa paid them R2000 each.

Their death shocked the country and the community especially after the arrest of the principal as a suspect.

The teachers had been kidnapped then shot dead execution-style. Their semi-decomposed bodies were found in a shallow grave close to Ntuli's burnt-out car.

State prosecutor Cyril Selepe urged the court to impose the maximum sentence on the three, saying none of them had shown remorse.

"The murder was planned nearly for a year. The principal is a leader in a country . he teaches our future leaders.

"What sort of leadership is he showing? We will be failing our duty to uphold and serve justice in our community if we don't impose maximum sentence on them," Selepe argued.

He asked for a no-parole period of 25 years.

In passing sentencing, Combrink said he had a duty to protect and serve the community, because they are his employers.

"I am not employed by the government but by the people and I am a custodian of their values as human beings.

"No matter what differences you had with Mthenjana, there are other means of resolving the issues like taking the matter to higher authorities. But you decided to hire people to kill her," Combrink said to Mathenjwa.

"No one deserves to die like this. If it were before 1994 I would have imposed the death penalty.

"We live in an orderly society where every men, child and women has a freedom to move.

"As I am giving this sentence, one person is killed somewhere. Maybe right now three women are being raped or four people are robbed.

"There would come a time where people would take the law into their own hands and we need to prevent that," he said.

He then sentenced them to two life-terms for murder, 20 years for kidnapping, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, three years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition.

Gumede and Qwabe were slapped with an additional five years for the burning of the car.


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