Such is the argument of his defence lawyer, Mohamed Sibda, who told the Western Cape High Court that “the legacy of apartheid had been a breeding ground for this kind of crime.”
Snyman was found guilty of murder in July for the 2013 murder of school matric pupil Glenrico Martin.
The court found that Snyman had acted with common purpose when together with Wilston Stoffels he went to Spes Bona secondary school in Athlone with the intention of killing 18-year-old Martin.
Stoffels is currently serving a 24-year sentence for the May 2013 shooting after accepting a plea bargain with the State.
He admitted to pulling the trigger which killed the Manenberg teenager.
Evidence during the trial indicated that the murder had been a revenge attack after the victim had fired a shot at the G-Unit gang previously.
Snyman was a member of the G-Unit gang, which is affiliated to the Americans gang, while the victim was a member of the Hard Livings gang.
Defence lawyer Sibda told the Western Cape High Court that despite the murder being a “brazen act of violence”, there had been no attempt by Snyman to hide his identity and there had not been a financial motive.
Snyman has shown no remorse during the trial, an aggravating factor in sentence, but Sibda said it should not be considered in that light.
Rather, he asked the court to “bear in mind that reformation of a person is not an overnight process.”
Sibda pointed to the excess of violence in South Africa “with over 400 mob killings in the country in the past decade”.
He said Americans last burnt people alive in the 1600s, but it continues to happen in this country.
He blamed it on a “violent mindset” that has been shaped by the fact that “our people have been oppressed for a very long time.”
Sibda said the retributive aspect in a sentence will be satisfied by Snyman going to prison: “The illusion of bravado is gone. The brotherhood is gone – he sits alone there in his cell.”
He told the court Snyman must endure shocking prison conditions in which disease and rat plagues are rife.
“I just had a client whose thumb was bitten off in prison,” he said.
Sibda asked the court to consider the role Snyman played in the crime as he never pulled the trigger.
He said his client should be “given a chance to reform.”
But, prosecutor Mziwanele Jaxa, arguing in aggravation of sentence, said Snyman’s role had in fact been that of “mastermind” and he hadn’t pulled the trigger because he thought that would lessen his guilt or exonerate him of the crime.
Jaxa said the crime happened on school grounds where children “had to witness the gruesome murder of one of their learners.”
Calling for the minimum prescribed sentence of life behind bars, he said gang violence had “unleashed a reign of terror on law abiding citizens and has undermined their fundamental rights to freedom and security.”
He said the offence had sent “shock waves through the province “as it had happened on school premises”.
Jaxa was adamant in his assertion that belonging to a gang was a “matter of choice” and Snyman had gone to the school with the intent to murder, disguising himself in a Spes Bona Secondary uniform.
Judge Lister Nuku will deliver sentence on October 22.