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‘He decided to finish him off’

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Deceased assaulted with belts before being stabbed to death

SENTENCED: Thapelo Dipico was sentenced for murder and his six co-accused, Bernie Steenkamp, Wayne Kock, Piet September, Lungisani Khumalo, Letlhogonolo Eland and Luthando Ntshotsho, were sentenced for assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm in the Kimberley Magistrates Court yesterday. Photo: Soraya Crowie

A 21-YEAR-old man, Thapelo Dipico, has been sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for stabbing a man to death.

His six co-accused, who were found guilty of assault with the intent to do grievous bodily harm (assault GBH), were also sentenced in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Dipico was found guilty of murder, while his co-accused, Bernie Steenkamp, 22, Wayne Kock, 27, Piet September, 27, Lungisani Khumalo, 28, Letlhogonolo Eland, 28, and Luthando Ntshotsho, 26, were convicted of assault GBH.

Dipico’s six co-accused assaulted Sephelo Khuma by hitting him with belts before Dipico stabbed him to death.

The assault followed after Khuma had an altercation with one of the accused.

The group apparently followed the deceased and his girlfriend after they left a tavern in Kagisho. They assaulted Khuma and then Dipico pulled out a knife and stabbed him.

Handing down sentence to the seven accused yesterday, Magistrate Veliswa Setyata said that while the court had heard that the deceased was aggressive on the day of the incident, he “did not deserve to die in the way he did”.

She said that Dipico had resorted to violence and used a knife to inflict injuries on the deceased that resulted in his death, while it was also clear that Khuma had been overpowered by the six co-accused, who assaulted him with belts.

“When the deceased was stabbed he was already overpowered and powerless after the assault by the co-accused. However, Dipico decided to ‘finish him off’ by stabbing him. He (Dipico) cut short the deceased’s life. Was it not for the fact of the assault, which left the deceased powerless, Dipico would not have had the opportunity to stab and kill Khuma. The violent and reckless assault paved the way for Dipico to kill Khuma,” said Setyata.

“People like him (Dipico) have an attitude of resolving minor matters by resorting to violence.”

It also transpired yesterday that Kock and September had previous convictions, with September being convicted of assault GBH in 2006 and attempted murder in 2012.

Setyata pointed out that September’s previous convictions had all involved violence and that the previous sentences had not deterred him from re-offending.

This served as an aggravating factor during sentencing, with September being sentenced to three years imprisonment while the other five co-accused – Steenkamp, Kock, Khumalo, Eland and Ntshosho – were each sentenced to a fine of R1 500 or 18 months imprisonment, with R750 or nine months imprisonment suspended for four years on the condition that they are not found guilty of assault GBH during this time.

Dipico was sentenced to ten years imprisonment after Setyata said that the court found compelling and substantial circumstances to justify deviating from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment for murder.

All seven accused were declared unfit to possess a firearm.