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Sun Aug 28 16:06:39 CAT 2016

Sithole's killers to be sentenced on Monday

S'duduzo Dludla And Marzanne Van Den Berg | 29 January, 2016 17:19
From left, Mthintho Bhengu, who was found guilty; Sizwe Mngomezulu, freed earlier in the week; and Sfundo Mzimela, also found guilty of killing Emmanuel Sithole.
Image by: ALON SKUY

The sentencing of the men who attacked and killed Mozambican hawker Emmanuel Josias Sithole was postponed to Monday in the Johannesburg Magistrate's Court.

On Friday‚ testimony was led in mitigation and aggravation of the men's sentences before the matter was postponed.

Mthinto Bhengu‚ 22‚ and Sifundo Mzimela‚ 21‚ were found guilty of murder in November and a youth‚ who has since turned 18 but may by order of the court not be named‚ was found not guilty of murder but convicted of theft and assault.

Sithole was killed on April 18 last year after demanding money from some of the accused‚ who had taken cigarettes and sweets from his stall without paying.

The attack‚ which happened during a flare-up of xenophobic violence in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township‚ was captured by Sunday Times photographer James Oatway.

Sizwe Mngomezulu‚ 20‚ was also charged but found not guilty. Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff found that he was merely a bystander.

Prosecutor Jacob Tloubatla asked for a sentence of 15 years for Bhengu and eight to 10 years for Mzimela. He recommended leniency because the men were still young.

He said the court had a duty to try to avoid sending children to jail‚ but the sentence of the 18-year-old was at the court's discretion.

A probation officer from the Walter Sisulu Child and Youth Care Centre‚ Boitumetsi Ditsele‚ testified that the 18-year-old has expressed his sorrow about Sithole's death.

She said he has not yet returned to school because the school was waiting for a report from the centre‚ but the young man was much behaved than before.

He no longer lives in the hostel where he lived at the time of the crime and he has undergone rehabilitation for substance abuse‚ Ditsele said.

Social worker Wonderful Baloyi‚ who compiled a report on Bhengu for sentencing‚ said Bhengu has a short temper and was convicted in the past of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm‚ for which he was sentenced to six months in jail.

The jail time had not deterred Bhengu from violent behaviour‚ Baloyi said. But he believed this was because Bhengu was never exposed to rehabilitation programmes in prison and Baloyi thought Bhengu could benefit from such programmes.

Bhengu consumes alcohol moderately and his mother had said he was under the influence of alcohol when the men attacked Sithole.

Baloyi said even though Bhengu admitted that he stabbed Sithole‚ he maintained that he had a defence because he was provoked.

Mzimela's mother‚ Zamile Shezi‚ testified on his behalf and said the fact that he grew up without a father in destitute circumstances contributed to his behaviour.

She expressed her grief at Sithole's death and asked for forgiveness from the court and Sithole's family.

"I am hurting for my son and the loss of the Sithole family‚" Shezi said.

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