25 years for murder of historian Rattray

Canaan Mdletshe and Sapa

Canaan Mdletshe and Sapa

Pietermaritzburg high court judge Jan Hugo yesterday sentenced Fehe Nkwanyana to 25 years in jail for his part in the murder of world-renowned historian and raconteur, David Rattray.

Rattray 48, died after being shot while trying to save his wife during a botched robbery at his Fugitive's Drift Lodge in Nquthu, KwaZulu-Natal, late last month.

Soon after his death police arrested two suspects, one a former employee at the lodge.

Before sentencing, Nkwanyana, 23, kept his head down and was reluctant to face the public gallery. He declined to say anything after sentencing.

Rattray's widow, Nicky, eldest son David, and family and friends also did not want to comment.

The judge found substantial and compelling circumstances in Nkwanyana's case, which enabled the court to impose a lesser sentence than the prescribed life in jail.

The circumstances were that he pleaded guilty and indicated willingness to testify against his accomplices.

Hugo ordered that Nkwanyana serve 18 years before being considered for parole. He also imposed 10 years for attempted aggravated robbery of Rattray and his receptionist Nomthandazo Zulu, and three years for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. All sentences are to run concurrently.

Hugo said the murder of Rattray had to be dealt with by the courts on the same basis as the many other murders the courts dealt with daily. The celebrity status of Rattray and the damage done to the country were not to be taken into account, he said.

Meanwhile, political parties expressed satisfaction at the sentencing of Nkwanyana.

The DA's Rodger Burrows said justice had served the country well.

"The criminal justice system in this case has worked extremely fast and accurate. I hope the same will happen to other criminal cases," he said.

United Democratic Movement's Bongani Msomi praised police for the swift arrests, and the court for the "lengthy" sentence.

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