A bookkeeper was jailed for 26 years on Tuesday for forcing his way into a home with a semi-automatic pistol loaded with only one round of ammunition.
He wanted to rob the woman occupant of a computer monitor and a Sony Playstation.
Patrick Mboniswa, 37, appeared in the Goodwood Regional Court before Magistrate Constance Nziweni.
He was charged with robbery with aggravating circumstances, the illegal possession of a prohibited firearm, the unlawful possession of ammunition and with pointing the firearm at the victim in the Cape Town suburb of Elsies River two years ago.
The magistrate said Mboniswa had maintained his innocence throughout the protracted trial and, only after being found guilty, had he expressed regret for the incident and taken full responsibility for it.
She said he had pleaded not guilty to the charges, and by doing so had caused the victim and other witnesses to the incident the trauma of having to face Mboniswa in court and testify against him.
“You had the opportunity to plead guilty and spare the witnesses the ordeal of attending the proceedings, but you did not do so”.
The magistrate told Mboniswa: “What happened to the victim in her house that day was a most unpleasant experience for her. She tried to prevent you from entering her home, but you forced your way in, and the fact that you were armed incdicates the incident was planned.”
Mboniswa qualified for the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for both the armed robbery and possession of a prohibited semi automatic pistol.
However, defence attorney Theophillis Swartz urged the court to rule that his age and the fact that he was a first time offender were substantial and compelling circumstances justifying a lesser sentence.
The magistrate said she agreed with prosecutor Salman Sishuba such circumstances “did not exist”.
She said the courts had to avoid ruling in favour of substantial and compelling circumstances, to avoid minimum sentences, for “flimsy reasons”.
She added: “The victim was minding her own business in her own home when he pointed a firearm at her. It is evidence that you were truly committed to perpetrating the armed robbery.”
She said the high level of violent crime posed a threat to the country’s democracy and that respect for the law had to be restored.
“People who make themselves guilty of serious offences have to dealt with harshly,” she said.
She told him: “You have placed yourself in your current predicament and have only yourself to blame.”