Crime spe­cial part 24

LIFE im­pris­on­ment in South Africa has an in­de­ter­mi­nate length and may last for the re­main­der of the of­fender’s life.

People (South Africa) - - Contents - BY VANESSA PA­PAS

FROM deadly home in­va­sions, vi­o­lent fam­ily mur­ders, al­bino killings and toxic love tri­an­gles to deadly af­fairs, re­venge mur­ders, grue­some farm at­tacks, hired hits and even can­ni­bal­ism, ev­ery day crime cases grip our

coun­try. In the last two years, courts across South Africa have seen some of the most vile, cruel killers take the dock. We take a look at some of the most cov­ered tri­als that re­sulted in life sen­tences.

The Mur­der Of Han­nah Cor­nelius

LAST month Ver­non Witbooi, Ger­aldo Par­sons and Eben van Niek­erk were handed down life sen­tences. The trio was sen­tenced on Novem­ber 12 in the Western Cape High Court af­ter be­ing con­victed of the rape and mur­der Stel­len­bosch Uni­ver­sity stu­dent 21-year-old Han­nah Cor­nelius, and the bru­tal at­tack on her friend Ch­es­lin Marsh, 22, in May last year. Han­nah was stabbed sev­eral times and her head had been crushed with a rock. Witbooi and Par­sons were slapped with 25 years be­hind bars for at­tempt­ing to mur­der Marsh, while Van Niek­erk was handed a 20-year sen­tence for the same crime. A fourth ac­cused, Nashville Julius, has re­ceived 15 years each for the rob­bery of the two vic­tims and seven years each for their kid­nap­pings. The sen­tences will run con­cur­rently with an ef­fec­tive 22-year sen­tence. The pre­vi­ous week, the Western Cape High Court found Mor­timer Saun­ders guilty of the rape and pre­med­i­tated mur­der of three-year-old Court­ney Pi­eters and, a day later, the same court found Ja­son Rohde guilty of the mur­der of his wife Su­san Rohde at Spier wine es­tate in 2016.

The Trial Of Cameron Wil­son

TWENTY-YEAR-OLD se­rial killer and psy­chopath Cameron Wil­son showed no re­morse for mur­der­ing five peo­ple – of­ten smil­ing and gig­gling while he sat in the dock. In Au­gust last year Wil­son was sen­tenced to four life terms plus 71 years, which are to run con­cur­rently. He was found guilty of 13 charges, in­clud­ing mur­der, rape and at­tempted mur­der. Three of the mur­ders in­cluded that of 18-year-old Lekita Moore, 16-year-old Stacey Lee Mo­hale and Toy­her Sto­ber. Wil­son stabbed Lekita 98 times and left her naked body on a field in Val­halla Park while Stacey Lee was raped, stoned, and a tyre placed around her neck and then set alight in 2015. Wil­son was ar­rested af­ter Lekita’s body was found and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed the teen had left a karaoke party with

Wil­son and his friends. The ac­cused’s DNA and that of an­other woman, al­legedly stabbed by the ac­cused, had been found on a coat he is be­lieved to have worn that night. Dur­ing the trial foren­sic pathol­o­gist Bron­wyne

Inglis de­tailed Lekita’s wounds, stat­ing she had been stabbed re­peat­edly in her head, neck, chest, ab­domen, back and pri­vate parts.

The Trial Of Randy Tango

SE­RIAL rapist and child killer Randy Tango had his days in court con­cluded last year De­cem­ber by Western Cape High Court Judge Robert Hen­ney when he was sen­tenced to three life terms for the rape and mur­der of 11-yearold Stacha Arendse, plus an ad­di­tional 10 years for the statu­tory rape of an­other vic­tim. Tango en­tered a plea and sen­tence agree­ment, and was handed three life terms plus 10 years. Stacha went miss­ing in March of that year and Tango was later ar­rested, charged. He claimed in his plea ex­pla­na­tion that he had killed her to avoid go­ing to prison for her rape.

Trial Of Gang Rapists

IN Novem­ber three rapists got a hefty 18 life sen­tences col­lec­tively for the rape of a teenager and her mother in KwaZulu-Na­tal. Spokesper­son Colonel Them­beka Mbele said that in Fe­bru­ary 2017 the trio had bro­ken into a house in Fair­breeze where a 17-year-old girl and her brother, nine, were asleep. She was re­peat­edly gan­graped and robbed of house­hold items at knife­point. A month later, the gang re­turned to the same house­hold once again and re­peat­edly raped the mother. The gang was ar­rested and tried on the charges. Si­bon­iso Mag­nif­i­cent Malevu, 29, Vusumuzi Sibu­siso Zungu, 29, and Thokozani An­dries Khu­malo, 30, were each sen­tenced in the Madadeni High Court to five terms of life im­pris­on­ment for rap­ing the daugh­ter and 15 years im­pris­on­ment for house­break­ing and rob­bery with ag­gra­vat­ing cir­cum­stances. Khu­malo re­ceived an ad­di­tional three terms of life im­pris­on­ment for rap­ing the mother.

The Trial Of An­drew Plaatjies

IN Au­gust 52-year-old An­drew Plaatjies was sen­tenced to life in prison for at­tempted rape and the mur­der of 13-year-old Rene Ro­man in Laven­der Hill, Cape Town. He was sen­tenced in terms of a plea and sen­tenc­ing agree­ment he en­tered into with the State in the Western Cape High Court. Plaatjies was ap­pre­hended shortly af­ter the child’s body was found at his house, me­tres away from her own home last month. In his plea agree­ment a hor­ri­fied court room heard how Plaatjies had pulled a plas­tic bag over the girl’s head, pulled her panties down, and hit her three times on the head with the back of an axe to sub­due her for rape. Ro­man’s half-naked body was found hid­den un­der a car­pet in the ac­cused’s shed fol­low­ing an ex­ten­sive search by po­lice and com­mu­nity mem­bers.

How Is A life Sen­tence De­ter­mined?

AC­CORD­ING to an ar­ti­cle in Times fea­tur­ing ad­vo­cate Jackie Nagte­gaal at Law For All‚ the trial courts in South Africa are re­spon­si­ble for sen­tenc­ing crim­i­nal of­fend­ers.

“It is up to them to de­ter­mine the type and sever­ity of a sen­tence in each case. While it isn’t an easy task to de­ter­mine the ap­pro­pri­ate pun­ish­ment‚ there are three prin­ci­ples that the courts use to guide them in de­ter­min­ing the cor­rect sen­tence,” said Nagte­gaal. “Th­ese prin­ci­ples are col­lec­tively known as the Triad of Zinn: the grav­ity of the of­fence‚ the cir­cum­stances of the of­fender‚ and pub­lic in­ter­est. The law does pro­vide for im­prop­erly im­posed sen­tences to be al­tered or re­versed. The law re­quires the courts to hand down pre­scribed min­i­mum sen­tences for cer­tain se­ri­ous crimes‚ such as mur­der‚ rape‚ hu­man trafficking‚ smug­gling of weapons and theft. Judges can only de­vi­ate from th­ese min­i­mum sen­tences if the of­fender is younger than 18 years old or sub­stan­tial and com­pelling cir­cum­stances ex­ist to jus­tify the de­ci­sion.”

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