Court knife attacker guilty

Pertunia Ratsatsi and Sapa

Pertunia Ratsatsi and Sapa

A 33-year-old man who stabbed a female prosecutor several times while robbing her of a cellphone was found guilty in the Pretoria high court yesterday.

Sipho Mnisi was arrested last year after he attacked senior prosecutor Marisa Booyse inside her office at the Pretoria magistrates' court.

Mnisi stabbed Booyse eight times before robbing her of her cellphone.

Mnisi, a former car guard, is believed to have concealed the knife in a folded newspaper when he entered the building on September 19 last year.

The state prosecutor called for a life sentence immediately after Mnisi was convicted yesterday.

Judge Tholi Vilakazi convicted Mnisi on charges of robbery with aggravating circumstances and of attempted murder.

Prosecutor Andre Fourie argued that even though Booyse was a law officer surrounded by police personnel, Mnisi had still chosen to attack her.

This proved that Mnisi had no respect for the law and deserved a sentence of life imprisonment.

The judge said it was clear Mnisi would have foreseen that Booyse could have died after he repeatedly stabbed her.

Mnisi had the intention to kill her when he attacked her, despite his denials.

Booyse partially lost the use of her right hand as a result of the attack and was still receiving counselling to overcome the trauma.

She has not been back to her office since.

Booyse previously told journalists she could not convince herself to return to a place she associated with her near death.

She also said she shuddered at the thought that, had she been killed, her two young daughters might have had to grow up without a mother to provide for them.

lMnisi was acquitted on charges of murdering and robbing 18-year-old Peet van der Merwe at the Centurion Mall in June 2005.

Van der Merwe was stabbed to death with a broken bottle after he and friends had smoked dagga under the bridge at the mall with a group of strangers.

One of his friends, Alex Barnard, six months later identified Mnisi as the attacker.

Judge Vilakazi, however, said he was not satisfied that Barnard's identification of Mnisi was sufficiently reliable.

There was no other evidence to support Barnard's testimony.

It was also dark that night and there was no lighting under the bridge, the judge said.

Mnisi will be sentenced on July 26.