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Mdluli's co-accused 'should not be sent to jail', court hears

Former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli was found guilty of assault and kidnapping.
Former crime intelligence head Richard Mdluli was found guilty of assault and kidnapping.
Image: Thulani Mbele

Mthembeni Mthunzi, who has been found guilty with former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli of assault and kidnapping, should not be sentenced to serve time in jail.

Mthunzi's attorney Sabelo Nobangule made this submission in closing arguments during  sentencing proceedings at the high court in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Mdluli and Mthunzi were last year each convicted on two counts of assault, two counts of kidnapping and two of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.

The matter relates to the assault of Mdluli's customary wife Tshidi Buthelezi and her boyfriend Oupa Ramogibe in 1998.

Mthunzi, now 60, accompanied Mdluli to a house in Vosloorus where they also assaulted Alice Manana, forcing her to reveal the whereabouts of Buthelezi and Ramogibe.

Manana was then forced to accompany Mthunzi and Mdluli to Orange Farm, where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were found. Ramogibe was assaulted.

Nobangule said the state had not told the court what the benefits of a custodial sentence were.

“The benefits of direct imprisonment have not been forthcoming. The state has not told the court how the interests of society are best served by the incarceration of the accused,” Nobangule said. 

Nobangule said the evidence of Mthunzi, in which he testified about his personal circumstances, and of the probation officer who recommended a sentence of correctional supervision, was the only available evidence before court for the purposes of sentencing.

He said the state did not present any evidence on sentence, other than indicating it would argue for a custodial sentence. 

Nobangule admitted that the crimes Mthunzi had been convicted of were serious and said the court was free to impose any sentence it deemed appropriate, after having weighed all factors. 

“The court is at liberty to impose a non-custodial sentence that will serve all aspects of punishment.”

Nobangule said direct imprisonment was one of the purposes of punishment, which was retribution. However, this was not only achieved through direct imprisonment. 

“The cumulative effect of all these circumstances must point towards a non-custodial sentence being an appropriate form of sentence.” 

Nobangule said the court should also take into consideration that it had been 22 years since the offences were committed, and that Mdluli was a core primary caregiver for his family and extended family. 

Sentencing proceedings continue.

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