Marriage and murder in Phalaborwa

Convicted killer Mark Scott-Crossley was married in the Phalaborwa Magistrate’s Court on Friday ahead of his sentencing for the murder of farmworker Nelson Chisale.

Scott-Crossley and Simonetta Strydom, who works for the South African Revenue Service in Phalaborwa, were married by court officials.

The couple tried to get married in the cells two weeks ago, but the police refused to allow Department of Home Affairs officials inside to conduct the ceremony.

“We tried today and we were lucky,” said Scott-Crossley’s lawyer, Charl van Tonder.

Strydom’s husband died six months ago in a car crash. She has attended court proceedings all week.

A lawyer alerted the press to the brief civil ceremony, but the police who were on guard inside the court made sure reporters could not get inside to witness the ceremony.

An emotional Scott-Crossley battled to fight back his tears on his arrival at the court on Friday, embracing his fiancée outside before he was led into the holding cells.

Community demands life sentences

Meanwhile, the community of Phalaborwa will lose all faith in the justice system unless life sentences are handed down to Chisale’s killers, people said as they crowded the doors of the circuit court.

Chisale was fed to lions in Hoedspruit last year.

Violently angry immediately after the murder, the community calmed down as it saw justice taking its course, said Edwin Mthombeni on Friday.

However, if anything other than life imprisonment is handed down, it will send the message: “If you’ve got money, you can do as you please. It means money is power.”

A large police contingent cordoned off the area outside the court’s holding cells after a crush of people congregated around the barred gates in the hope of catching a glimpse of the killers, Scott-Crossley and Simon Mathebula.

They were found guilty in April of the premeditated murder of Chisale.

Police were ready for a large crowd.
They did not expect any problems, said a police officer.

Also demanding life sentences for Scott-Crossley and Mathebula was their victim’s niece, Fetsang Jafta.

Dismissing calls for a lesser sentence for Mathebula, she said they had both been acting “as an equal thing”.

If, at the end of sentencing, they still have the right to be free, justice will not have been done, Jafta said,

Jafta added: “I will just be relieved when it’s finally over.”

A third accused, Richard Mathebula (no relation), who was too sick to stand trial, will be tried separately in November.

A fourth accused, Robert Mnisi, was indemnified from prosecution when he turned state witness.

Scott-Crossley and Simon Mathebula face minimum sentences of life imprisonment unless the court finds they have proved there are compelling and substantial reasons to impose lesser sentences.

They are to be sentenced by Judge George Maluleke.—Sapa

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