A retired police officer convicted with former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli, pleaded for leniency in the Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Mthembeni Mthunzi and Mdluli were convicted last year of assaulting and kidnapping Mdluli’s former lover Tshidi Buthelezi, her husband Oupa Ramogibe and friend Alice Manana in 1998.
Mthunzi and Mdluli were colleagues at the time of the incident.
Both Buthelezi and Ramogibe have since died. Buthelezi died from an illness while Ramogibe was gunned down in 1999.
Mthunzi’s lawyer, Sabelo Nobangule, asked Judge Ratha Mokgoatlheng for a non-custodial sentence for his client.
Nobangule said it appeared that from the facts before Mokgoatlheng, Mthunzi got involved in the matter when he was asked by Mdluli to assist him with a marital issue.
“There was no material gain to accrue for Mthunzi. He is a first-time offender but has previous convictions that are more than 30 years old and have expired,” Nobangule said.
“I am not sure why those [30-year-old] records still show on the SAPS record. He must be considered as a first-time offender.
“On this matter there is an absence of the prescribed minimum sentence and retribution must take precedence over other means of punishment.”
He asked the court to also consider that the assault and kidnapping was committed 22 years ago.
“Him being in prison will indirectly affect his children and the extended family members he is looking after. There is a notion by the State that there will be no loss on his family if he goes to jail. That decision will be short-sighted.
“Why does the State want him to go to jail? To say he must be incarcerated, what will it achieve?” Nobangule asked.
Nobangule said there are alternative forms of punishment for Mthunzi.
“Although he protested his innocence throughout the trial, he has shown remorse and wants the court to be lenient towards him. The suggestion before the court was a correctional supervision sentence. The benefits of direct imprisonment have not been forthcoming.
“The State has not told court how the interest of society will be best served if Mthunzi is sent to prison. The State only argued that the suggested sentence is inappropriate,” Nobangule said.
Social workers Portia Morudi-Dabishi and Mulalo Nematendani both earlier suggested a non-custodial sentence for the accused.
“This is not a crime where our courts have said retribution must take prominence. Why would this court be asked out of all consideration to consider this form of punishment, which is retributive, when there is nothing in law that enjoins this court to do?” Nobangule asked.
“A non-custodial sentence is an appropriate form of sentence. Direct imprisonment will serve one purpose from what the State has said – revenge.”