The fact that Mokwang’s facial bones were broken was the most aggravating factor in the case.
IN ONE of the longest trials the city has seen, the two men convicted of the brutal murder of a Ritchie man were each sentenced to 10 years imprisonment yesterday.
Neville Cooper, who has been in custody for six years already, and Faizel Martins were yesterday sentenced in the Kimberley Regional Court for the murder of Jan Mokwang who was killed on October 26 2011.
Mokwang was assaulted by a group of about six men, including the two accused, after they had asked him for money. The group hit and kicked him and thereafter threw a heavy stone on his head.
Mokwang died in the intensive care unit at the Kimberley Hospital Complex on November 13 2011.
Magistrate Veliswa Setyata stated yesterday that the fact that Mokwang’s facial bones were broken was the most aggravating factor in the case.
“The deceased, who was unarmed at the time, was walking down the street when he was approached by the group. They hit and trampled on him and even threw a big stone on his head. Medical evidence stated that the face of the deceased was disfigured to such an extent that his facial bones were broken.
“The doctor testified that the facial bones were one of the strongest bones in the body. The fact that the bones were broken was a clear indication that a heavy object was used to break these bones.
“This is regarded as the most aggravating factor in this matter,” said Setyata.
She said that the motive for the incident was still unknown.
“The deceased was a victim of the group without any provocation. It is clear that they acted as a group but it is still unclear why the deceased was attacked in such a manner.
“Even if there is no evidence to prove motive, one can see that the motive was to rob and kill the deceased. This is also clear in the evidence that money was demanded before the deceased was killed.”
Setyata added that it was clear that Mokwang’s murder still had a traumatic effect on his family even years after the incident.
“The father of the deceased testified and one could see the grief on his face. Even seven years after his son was killed, the father is still clearly deeply grieved by the incident. One can only imagine the impact the incident had on the next of kin of the deceased.”
She said that the youthfulness of the accused and the time they spent in custody while waiting for the matter to be concluded, were reasons why the court had deviated from the prescribed sentence of 15 years.
“The accused were still young at the time of the offence. The age of the accused should always be considered during sentencing.
“It is also noted that Martins is a first-time offender. Martins was attending school at the time of his arrest. He (Martins) was in custody for a year due to his failure to appear in court.
“The regional court stated that Cooper had been in custody for six years awaiting for the matter to be finalised. This matter is considered to be one of the longest trials. The time that an accused spent in custody cannot be overlooked,” she said.
Setyata said the sentence would send out a clear message.
“These offences are prevalent. When an offence is prevalent, the court has a duty to punish those found guilty of such offences harshly.
“This will send a deterrent message to offenders that such actions will not be tolerated by the court,” she said.
Both accused indicated to the court that they would appeal their sentences. The matter was postponed in order to determine a date for leave to appeal.