The crimes committed more than two decades ago by former crime intelligence boss Richard Mdluli and Mthembeni Mthunzi were so serious that the appropriate sentence should be a jail term.
This was the argument put forward by the state during sentencing proceedings against the two men at the high court in Johannesburg on Friday.
Mdluli, 61, and Mthunzi, 60, were last year each convicted on two counts of assault, two counts of kidnapping and two of assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm.
This was for the 1998 assault of Mdluli’s customary wife, Tshidi Buthelezi, and her boyfriend, Oupa Ramogibe.
Mthunzi and Mdluli had, at the time, travelled to a house in Vosloorus where they assaulted Alice Manana, forcing her to reveal where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were.
Mthunzi and Mdluli proceeded to Orange Farm, where Buthelezi and Ramogibe were found. Ramogibe was then assaulted.
Ramogibe was murdered in 1999 in an unrelated incident. Nobody was arrested for his death. Buthelezi died a few years later of natural causes.
Prosecutor Zaais van Zyl SC said deterrence in this case played a limited role.
Van Zyl said there was no need to reform the behaviour of the two men because for 22 years they had been on good behaviour.
“This case is essentially about retribution,” said Van Zyl.
He said the court had been presented with positive personal circumstances about the accused, including their ages and the fact that they provided for their children and extended families.
“Despite all of this, we argue these crimes are so serious that the appropriate sentence is jail.”
Van Zyl disputed the assertion by Mdluli’s lawyer, Ike Motloung, that it had been a crime of passion and was unplanned, saying it was planned as the accused had the opportunity to reconsider their actions.
“All along their route, they had an opportunity to rethink,” he said. “We respectfully submit that there had been lots of planning. It started when Mdluli made a plan that he will go with Mthunzi,” he said.
Van Zyl also disputed Motloung’s assertion that the assault on Manana was not severe because a doctor who saw her the next day said her injuries were not serious.
“Mthunzi is a big man. When the assault happened, he was in his prime. He beat her for 30 to 35 minutes.”
He said when Manana woke up, she discovered bleeding from her ear.
“Far from being an insignificant assault, it was a serious assault perpetrated by a big man on a woman. The assault on Alice should carry heavy weight,” he said.
The trial continues.