Hip hop artist Molemo “Jub Jub” Maarohanye and Themba Tshabalala’s murder convictions were overturned on Wednesday, causing a reduction in their sentences.
Judge George Maluleke ruled in the high court in Johannesburg that Maarohanye and Tshabalala were guilty of culpable homicide – not murder – for killing four school children during a drag racing accident. The pair was initially handed 20 years for murder.
On Wednesday, their sentences were reduced to 10 years, two of which were suspended. The sentences would be backdated to October 2012, when the pair was first sentenced and jailed.
Maarohanye and Tshabalala were also initially sentenced to four years in jail for two attempted murder convictions and another year for driving under the influence of drugs and racing on a public road. The attempted murder convictions were set aside.
Reckless, under the influence
The Protea Magistrate’s Court in Soweto found the pair guilty on October 16 2012 of murder, attempted murder, driving under the influence of drugs and racing on a public road.
They crashed their Mini Coopers into a group of schoolboys in Protea North, Soweto, on March 8 2010, killing Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni and Phomello Masemola. Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana were left permanently brain damaged.
Magistrate Brian Nemavhidi said in his judgment in 2012 that the accident would not have occurred had Maarohanye and Tshabalala not taken the decision to drive under the influence of intoxicating substances.
The deaths were caused by the “reckless driving at high speeds while under the influence of drugs and alcohol” of the accused, he said.
Drug tests performed on Maarohanye and Tshabalala after the incident tested positive for morphine and cocaine.
Outcry over initial sentence
“Twenty-five years is not enough,” the aunt of one of the boys exclaimed outside the Protea magistrate’s court, the Mail & Guardian reported in 2012.
“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.”
One of the boys’ mothers cried and rocked herself back and forth as she listened to the sentencing in the public gallery.
“Twenty-five years is nothing,” Lydia Matsimbia, a 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 that 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 show a “tit-for-tat attitude”. The punishment should fit the criminal and the crime while being fair to society. – Sapa, Staff reporter