October 06 2004 at 08:56AM
"Crime has become our national sport, and if we could commit ourselves to sport like we do to crime, we would become world champions."
This was the parting shot of Judge Theo Grobbelaar, 73, during his last appearance in the Pretoria High Court, as he reflected on his 15 years on the Bench.
Sentencing the Marble Hall cash-in-transit accused to six life terms in jail each and a total 137 years imprisonment, Grobbelaar said it would appear that the current laws were not forcing criminals to think twice before committing a crime.
It had become difficult for South Africans to enjoy the freedom that came with democracy as a result of criminals who forced them to stay behind high walls and electrical fences in fear of murderers and rapists who had no regard for the law.
"In the past people were afraid to walk freely with their families at night."
"Today they are even afraid to travel in their vehicles during daytime. Even churches are no longer safe. I doubt if these things are happening in other countries," said Grobbelaar.
The public were "sick and tired" of criminals, and he agreed with them.
"If sentences for serious crimes are lenient, the administration of justice will be brought into disrepute and the victims may take the law into their hands. We will not allow that to happen," he said.
"This is my last sentence in this court and I feel compelled that after my life of service as a judge, I must talk about my observation: crime has become our national sport."
"The illegal possession of firearms and ammunition has grown out of proportion and the community feels that the courts are not doing enough to deal with the criminals. They think the courts are encouraging criminals to do as they please and think they themselves must sort them out by taking the law into their hands."
Grobbelaar said an appropriate sentence for each accused was life imprisonment for the six murders (individually) and 10 years for the four attempted murders.
The sentence covered crimes ranging from robbery with aggravating circumstances (including for vehicles and firearms) to the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. Those who had licensed firearms were declared unfit to possess them.
The 15 men - Bongani Mabena, 29, Paul Mokwape 36, Absalon Molefe, 38, Oupa Chpane Paahla 34, Jackson Mokganedi, 41, Solomon Makubela, 39, Selale Hendrik Maloma, 45, Rudolph Pehlane Ratale, 43, Joseph Mpho Moepi, 42, Andries Meselane Madubanya, 39, Andrew Moropeng Madubanya, 39, Ignatius Vishinsky Kwakwa, 58, Abel Sibeko, 74, Thamsanqa, Cosmos Maifadi, 43 and Oupa William Ndlovu, 39 - were earlier found guilty on six counts of murder, four of attempted murder, four of robbery with aggravating circumstances and two of theft of motor vehicles.
The charges arose from the R8,5-million robbery on the Pretoria-Marble Hall road in December 1997 when the accused attacked SBV cash-in-transit vehicles.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on October 06, 2004