'Sentences too lenient', say Sithole's relatives

02 February 2016 - 02:05 By S'duduzo Dludla

Relatives of slain Mozambican hawker Emmanuel Josias Sithole had mixed feelings about jail terms of 17 years and 10 years handed down to his attackers by a Johannesburg magistrate yesterday. Peter Sithole, an uncle of the man killed in April last year, said he felt the court was too lenient on the men who killed his nephew."The sentences are too little for killing someone. Emmanuel will never come back to us. These guys will be out [of] jail in [a number of] years," he said yesterday. "If they are truly remorseful, they must go to his [Emmanuel's] graveside and ask for [forgiveness]."Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff sentenced Mthinto Bhengu and Sifundo Mzimela to imprisonment of 17 and 10 years respectively.Bhengu, 22, and Mzimela, 21, were convicted of murdering Sithole in November last year and a youth, who has since turned 18 but may not be named by a court order, was found not guilty of murder but convicted of assault and theft.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, in Johannesburg's Alexandra township. The killing happened in the wake of xenophobia attacks that swept through the country. The murder was caught on camera by Sunday Times photographer James Oatway.Van der Schyff said Bhengu failed to show compelling circumstances that would prompt the court to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for murder. Instead he deserved a longer sentence.Van der Schyff said because Mzimela merely acted in common purpose with Bhengu and his actions did not cause Sithole's death, he was willing to sentence him to less than the prescribed minimum.The youngster was sentenced to five years but it was suspended for five years. He was released under supervision on condition he takes part in rehabilitative programmes, consults a social worker every week and refrains from taking any drugs and alcohol.Peter Sithole said he was especially upset by the youth's lenient sentence.Another uncle, John Sithole, agreed that the court was too lenient with the youngest of the accused but said he was happy with the other men's sentences. He said the family was happy that justice had been done.Tshega Ntake, the attorney representing Bhengu and Mzimela, said his clients would not appeal.

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