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Man gets 22 years for racial attack

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The accused was also aware of his criminal behaviour as he removed one of the brackets of the bakkie’s spotlights after the incident and hid it at his house

File picture.

A 38-YEAR-old Kathu man has been sentenced to 22 years imprisonment by the Northern Cape High Court after he drove his bakkie into a group of young men in what was believed to be a racially-motivated incident.Harry Kotze’s sentencing ollowed his conviction on one charge of murder and three charges of attempted murder.

Kotze ploughed his bakkie into a group of friends – Elcardo Crew, Eshric Molino, Liam Cloete and Convin Jager – as they were walking past his house on the night of the incident in October 2017.

Crew, 20, died in hospital a few hours later. Molino, who was 19 years old at the time, was admitted to Gariep Mediclinic in Kimberley and had to undergo surgery for a broken pelvis. Cloete and Jager sustained minor injuries.

Acting High Court Judge Vernon Smith sentenced Kotze to 15 years for the murder of Crew and a further seven years for the attempted murder of Molino, as well as a further five years each for the attempted murders of Cloete and Jager.

Smith ordered that the two five-year sentences for the attempted murders of Cloete and Jager run concurrently with the seven-year attempted murder sentence.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) yesterday welcomed the sentence handed down to Kotze. Spokesperson for the NPA, Phaladi Shuping, said Kotze’s defence was non-pathological incapacity due to his intake of drugs and alcohol on the night of the incident. “The State, represented by advocate Ndimphiwe Mxabo, requested the court to reject the accused’s version of events because he had chased the complainants over a long distance, where there were many trees but managed to avoid hitting any of the trees.”

Mxabo told the court that Kotze could manipulate the vehicle in the directions in which the deceased and the complainants attempted to flee, which was a sign that he was in control of his senses.

The accused was also aware of his criminal behaviour as he removed one of the brackets of the bakkie’s spotlights after the incident and hid it at his house.

Molino’s stepfather, Elridge Benjamin, said yesterday that the family was not pleased with the sentence as it was lighter than expected.

“We feel that it is unfair as the punishment did not match the crime that was committed. Kotze had no remorse for what he had done. We are not saying that he should spend the rest of his life behind bars but this was no accident.”

Molino, who was an avid soccer player and was waiting to hear from Kaizer Chiefs at the time of the accident, had to give up his soccer career his step-father said.

“He will never be able to play for one of the big clubs after this, while his friend Elcardo is now gone.

“This is the aftermath of the destruction Kotze wreaked on our lives. We know he is also a parent, but he committed a vicious crime.”

Benjamin added that he still becomes emotional when he thinks about the incident and that his heart is broken for the parents of the deceased.