“The director of public prosecutions will study the judgment and see if there are any grounds to appeal,” Gauteng National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokeswoman Phindi Louw said.
She was speaking to reporters shortly after Judge George Maluleke ruled in the High Court in Johannesburg that Maarohanye and Tshabalala were guilty of culpable homicide, and not murder, for killing schoolboys Prince Mohube, Mlungisi Cwayi, Andile Mthombeni, and Phomello Masemola while drag-racing in Protea North, Soweto, on March 8, 2010.
The altered conviction led to a reduction in their sentences.
The pair was initially handed 20 years’ jail for murder, which was reduced to 10 years, two of which were suspended on condition they were not convicted of similar offences in the next five years.
“The sentence is antedated to 16 October 2012,” said Maluleke.
This was the date the pair started serving their sentences. The two had thus already served almost two years of their 10-year sentences.
Two children, Frank Mlambo and Fumani Mushwana, were left brain-damaged when the Mini Coopers Maarohanye and Tshabalala had been driving ploughed into the group of boys.
The two men were convicted for the attempted murder of Mlambo and Mushwana and sentenced to four-years in jail. Maluleke set aside this conviction and charge, as well as another of unlawfully racing on a public road and drug use.
He dismissed their appeal against their conviction for driving while under the influence of drugs.
They would still serve a one-year-sentence for this charge, to run concurrently with the 10-year sentence.
In his judgment, Maluleke said: “While it is correct that the role of drugs was clearly established as well as the direct role this played in the conduct of the appellants, this in our view eliminates the conditions of dolus eventualis [direct intention].”
He said the pair had no foresight of the fatal accident. Maluleke, however, did not excuse their behaviour.
“Their conduct cut short the lives of four innocent schoolchildren and completely confined two others to a life of care.”
Maarohanye and Tshabalala were not in court.