The Provincial Commissioner of South African Police Service in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Mondli Zuma has welcomed the sentencing of Floyd Makaringe, Sibusiso Zitha, as well as Thabang Sambo, aged between 35 and 38 for charges relating to mob justice which occurred on 21 February 2018, in Atherstone Trust (Buyisonto) near Bushbuckridge, where 25-year-old Sheriff Mathebula was severely assaulted by the trio which led to his death. Meanwhile, 25-year-old Happy Mkhonto was left critical with severe injuries as a result of the three men’s actions.
The Mhala Regional Court sentenced Makaringe and Zitha to 15 years imprisonment each whilst Sambo was given to six years.
The Court heard how on 21 February 2018, in Atherstone Trust (Buyisonto), Mathebula and Mkhonto were accused of house breaking at a certain house in Buyisonto where they allegedly stole a fridge. Makaringe, Zitha and Sambo held the two and took them to a nearby soccer field where the duo was severely assaulted by the trio. During the assault, Mathebula and Mkhonto were forced to give details of how they broke into the house and steal the fridge.
The torture continued for a while in spite of them (victims) pleading for forgiveness from their assailants. These three men went on inflicting pain on them. Unfortunately Mathebula succumbed to his injuries whereas Mkhonto survived the ordeal but sustained serious injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.
Police were notified about the incident and they attended to the scene where a case of murder as well as assault with intent to cause Grievous Bodily Harm (GBH) were opened.
Police immediately launched a manhunt for the suspects who murdered Mathebula. An intensive investigation by Mhala Detectives led to the arrest of Makaringe, Zitha and Sambo within 24 hours after the incident. The three went on trial for the two cases where the evidence presented before the Court, was so overwhelming and the trio was left without any defence that would save them from getting the punishment that they deserve and hence their sentences.
The Provincial Commissioner has thanked the court for setting a tone on people who take the law into their own hands. “People that engage in mob justice should know that the law will take its course whenever they are found to be on the other side of the law without any fear or favour. There is no one that is above the law and we encourage communities to join structures such as the Community Police Forums (CPF’s) and work with their local Traditional Leadership with a clear purpose of addressing crime within their communities. We hope that this sentence will serve as a deterrent to those who intend to engage in acts of mob justice,” said General Zuma.
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