Mixed reaction as ninja gets 20 years
PUPILS at the Nic Diederichs Technical High School in Krugersdorp have expressed differing feelings regarding their former schoolmate Morne Harmse's 20-year-sentence handed down by the South Gauteng high court yesterday.
Judge Phillip Hattingh sentenced Harmse, 19, to 18 years behind bars for killing Jacques Pretorius, 16, in August last year. Harmse, who was a matriculant at the school, also injured three people with his ninja sword.
Hattingh sentenced Harmse to eight years imprisonment for slashing schoolboy Stephanus Bouwer with the sword. Six of these will run concurrently. He was also given five years each for attacks on school employees Lesiba Samuel Manamela and Tshiamo Joseph Kodisang. The judge also recommended that Harmse be given psychiatric counselling and rehabilitation during his stay in prison.
'The Ninja' as he became known after the incident, had pleaded guilty to killing Pretorius and injuring others in their school grounds last year.
Teachers who were still digesting the sentencing were reluctant to comment, but one said: "We are saddened that the boy will spend such a long time in jail but justice took its cause."
Some pupils discussed Harmse's sentence.
"I think the sentence was too harsh because Morne was still young," said pupil Daylan Bakker.
"The judge should have given him at least five years so that he could straighten up his head and come back to make something of his life."
But one student who did not want to be named had a different take on the matter: "The sentence was appropriate. He killed a friend of ours. He should spend his life in jail so that other kids will learn not to be violent at school."
But all the pupils agreed on one thing - that Harmse should not have gone down alone.
"There were four other kids that helped him plan the whole thing. They also should have been arrested and sentenced with him," said a pupil.
Some pupils told Sowetan that the whole "thing was meant to be a joke".
They described Harmse as an introvert who could not even commit to any sport. A businessman near the school's entrance had a different view.
"It is unfair for the little boy to get such a sentence. We had a teacher who was killed at 2pm on the doorstep of his house and no one has been arrested for that, even to this day," he said.