JOHANNESBURG. — The two South African nationals found guilty of killing Mozambican national Emmanuel Sithole have been sentenced to 10 and 17 years, respectively. Mthinta Bhengu (accused #1) was sentenced to 17 years in prison, while Sifundo Mzimela (accused #4) was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in the Johannesburg Magistrate Court yesterday.
The duo was part of the four men who were accused of killing Sithole in the street of Alexandra in November 2015. Mthinta Bhengu was sentenced to 17 years in prison for repeatedly stabbing the street vendor until he died.
Bhengu’s accomplice, Sifundo Mzimela, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his part in the brazen murder that was captured on camera by Sunday Times photographer, James Oatway. Both men are in their early 20s.
Magistrate Lucas van der Schyff said he took into account that Bhengu was a dangerous man, who could pose danger to society, before he sentenced him.
Van Der Schyff said the murder was “senseless, brutal and uneccessary”. There were no compelling reasons for a minimum sentence, said the magistrate.
The magistrate referred to the photographs taken by the Sunday Times shortly before he died, saying it forced South Africans to watch him die, as he lay pleading for his life in the mud.
The State had earlier requested that Bhengu get a minimum of 15 years and Mzimzela between eight and 10 years in prison. Sithole was stabbed to death during a wave of xenophobic violence in Alexandra in April 2015.
Meanwhile, the uncle of the Mozambican national said he was happy with the sentence meted out by the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court to his killers.
After the sentencing the deceased’s uncle, John Sithole, said “the family was happy” with the sentences.
“I feel happy that they were found guilty and sentenced by the magistrate. His children will now at least know that justice has been served,” said Sithole.
Magistrate Van Der Schyff released the third accused, who was a minor at the time of the offence. The minor will be supervised by a social worker and will also have to report to a probation office. The minor, who has been ordered to enrol in a rehabilitation programme, will be back in court after three years so that his situation can be reviewed.
Accused number three has since been released on set conditions.
The minor’s sentence will start on Februay 6, while Bhengu and Mzimela will begin their prison sentences immediately.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson, Phindi Louw, said the NPA accepts and welcomes the sentences.
“We have always been in agreement with the probation officers report that compelling and subtantial circumstances exist in this matter for the court to deviate from imposing the normal prescribed sentence,” said Louw.
However, Emmanuel Sithole’s grandfather, Peter Sithole, said he was not happy with the sentencing because “the family” still grieves for the deceased.
“The sentences were too small and lenient considering the fact that we will not see our son ever again. It gives us great pain to know that the murderers will soon walk free,” lamented the dissappointed grandfather. — Sowetan/News24/IO