An armed tavern drinker who “snapped” when a “troublemaker” at a tavern brazenly took his drink just to provoke him was effectively sentenced to 12 years on Thursday for shooting dead the troublemaker.
Mthuthezi Mfobo, age unknown, appeared in the Parow Regional Court, before Magistrate Constance Nziweni, who also declared him unfit to possess a firearm.
Mfobo in fact faced a minimum sentence of 15 years for murder – for premeditated murder, the minimum is life imprisonment, but this was not premeditated.
But because Mfobo pleaded guilty and apologised in court to the deceased man’s family, as well as to the court for his conduct, prosecutor Barry van der Berg said the circumstances did not justify 15 years.
The incident happened at the Styles Tavern in the Langa township in April last year.
The court heard that Mfobo’s brother had died some years ago, but that Mfobo had only found out about it two years later.
Evidence was that the deceased, Christopher Nkonyana, delighted in taunting Mfobo about the fact that he had only found out about his brother’s death two years after it happened.
Mfobo resented the taunting, and he snapped when the deceased walked into the tavern and brazenly took Mfobo’s drink to upset him.
The magistrate told Mfobo: “Had it not been for the deceased’s conduct, you would not be before this court, today.”
But, she said, society had had enough of the violence plaguing the country, in which innocent people “die like flies”.
On the other hand, society would not demand that Mfobo be “sacrificed on the altar”, and it was unlikely he would ever “do this again”, she said.
She said Mfobo had pleaded guilty, and by doing so, had not wasted the court’s time with a protracted trial.
She said he had taken full responsibility for his conduct and had even apologised to the deceased’s family, to the court itself as well as to society at large, while in the witness stand.
This had reduced his moral blameworthiness for the murder, and she sensed that his apology was sincere and that he was not just paying lip service.
She said Mfobo had shot the deceased in the head, execution style, and that society expected the court to punish him appropriately.
Mfobo was in fact sentenced to 15 years jail, three of which were conditionally suspended for five years.
The magistrate added: “This is not the end of the road for you, and even though you pleaded guilty, you may still appeal the sentence, provided you lodge an application for permission to appeal within 14 days.”
– African News Agency