Blue Bulls rugby player Jacobus “Bees” Roux walked out of the Pretoria High Court a free man on Friday after being given a suspended sentence on charges of culpable homicide and drunken driving.
After the case was delayed for hours on Thursday and most of Friday, the defence and state finally came back to court shortly after 4pm with a plea bargain agreement.
Judge Nomonde Mngqibisa-Thusi sentenced Roux, in accordance with the plea agreement, to five years imprisonment with a conditional suspended sentence also of five years.
The suspension was on condition that he paid the widow of Metro police officer Sergeant Ntshimane Johannes Mogale, who he killed, R750 000 and that he was not convicted again of a violent crime.
If he was he would receive a sentence of direct imprisonment.
Roux was charged with the murder after allegedly beating Mogale (38) to death in August last year.
The incident took place after Mogale apparently pulled Roux over for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol.
Roux said in an affidavit placed before court during his bail application he had assaulted Mogale while defending himself against theft and attempted robbery by Mogale and would plead not guilty to a murder charge.
Roux’s spokesperson James Adams on Friday denied the attack on Mogale had anything to do with racism. He said anyone who knew Roux knew that he was a “gentle giant” and not a racist.
Roux’s lawyer Rudi Krause denied that Roux’s freedom was “bought”.
National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said: “The decision to conclude the murder case of Mr Roux by way of plea and sentence agreement was taken after thorough assessment of the evidence and after consultations with the family of the deceased and the investigating officer.”
Roux, who was initially charged with murder, kissed and hugged his girlfriend Carien du Toit and shook hands with Mogale’s family after being sentenced.
In a statement, he admitted causing Mogale’s death in a Pretoria street in August last year by repeatedly hitting Mogale’s head with his elbow then punching him and throwing him to the ground.
According to the statement, Mogale had pulled Roux over for suspected drunk driving in the early hours of the morning.
When Roux admitted to having a few drinks at a nearby restaurant, Mogale did not arrest him, but took a bottle of whiskey out of the rugby player’s car and gave to two of his colleagues in their car.
Mogale then got into the driver’s seat of Roux’s car and aggressively demanded the PIN number of his bank card before driving with him to an unknown destination.
According to Roux, it was clear to him that Mogale was on a criminal frolic of his own. He decided to attack Mogale because he feared for his life.
He said he was “a large person with unusual physical strength” who had found himself in an emergency situation, and said he had “anguished over this incessantly ever since the incident”.
“I realise that I should have stopped any further assault on the deceased when he landed on the road outside the car.
“I was in a state of agitation and turmoil as a result of the incident, the likes of which I’d never experienced before.
‘I pleaded with him to pull through’
“According to state witnesses, I proceeded to assault the deceased where he was prone on the ground by hitting him with clenched fists … I was screaming and yelling at bystanders to call the police and … at a stage when the deceased had evidently lost consciousness, I proceeded to plead with him to wake up so that he would ‘pull through’.
“I admit I exceeded the boundaries of private defence and although I had no intention to murder the deceased, assaulted him and negligently failed to foresee my actions might cause his death,” Roux said.
He said he had no prior history of violence and that everyone who knew him described him as a “gentle giant”.
According to Roux, Mogale must have stolen his wallet, because it was nowhere to be seen after the incident.
Roux expressed remorse about what he had done and said he had approached Mogale’s family and asked for their forgiveness.
Roux’s attorney Rudi Krause said “forgiveness was asked and given” during a long and emotional meeting with Mogale’s family. — Sapa