Outcry over Jub Jub’s 25-year sentence

"Twenty-five years is not enough," the aunt of one of the boys exclaimed outside Protea Magistrate's Court, Soweto on Wednesday.

"How do you give 25 years for the life of four children? How? It is not enough. Other people get 15 years for killing one child." Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala were each sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for murder and four years imprisonment for attempted murder. For use of drugs, driving under the influence of drugs and racing on a public road, they got a year for each count, to run concurrently. 

"You did not premeditate the accident, it happened … The court cannot impose the life sentence," magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said.

"All is not lost, the two of you are still young and you do not have any previous convictions."

They were drag-racing in Protea North on March 8 2010, when they crashed into a group of schoolboys.

Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni, and Phomello Masemola were killed. Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana were left permanently brain damaged.

One of the boy's mothers cried and rocked herself back-and-forth as she listened to the sentencing in the public gallery.

Maarohanye and Tshabalala stood in the dock, heads bowed. Maarohanye turned around once to look at his family. His father was present earlier in the day.

After court proceedings state prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa explained the sentencing to the outraged families.

"Twenty-five years is nothing," Lydia Matsimbia, another relative of one of the victims said. "He [Maarohanye] must apologise right now. We can't accept that apology. He was supposed to make it earlier."

Maarohanye had indicated earlier he wanted to apologise to the families and said he was never given the opportunity to do so. Nemavhidi questioned why it took Maarohanye so long to apologise and questioned his motive for offering to pay for tombstones. "This is an insult to the victims. Seems like you want to use the power of the press to avoid punishment."

He added that drag-racing and drug use should be eradicated in society. Nemavhidi said sentencing should not to show a "tit-for-tat attitude". The punishment should fit the criminal and the crime while being fair to society.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Phindi Louw said justice had been served. "It's unfortunate that you will never satisfy everyone … We believe that we have done our best. We plead with society to understand the decision by the justice system. Our aim is not to destroy people's lives … I believe a strong message was sent today."

Fumani Mushwana's father Joe thanked the justice system and said the families should be given time to process what had happened. Nemavhidi cancelled Maarohanye's and Tshabalala's driver's licences. They were also not allowed to carry a firearm.

The two were found guilty on October 16 of four counts of murder and two of attempted murder, of using drugs, of racing on a public road, and of driving under the influence of drugs.

They intended bringing an application to appeal their sentences on February 7, in the high court in Johannesburg. On April 12 a ruling would be made. – Sapa

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