Crime special part 24
LIFE imprisonment in South Africa has an indeterminate length and may last for the remainder of the offender’s life.
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.”