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You played God – judge


Mamogale used an assault rifle that he had “booked out” from the SANDF shortly before the murder, which occurred amidst allegations that his wife was having an extramarital affair

John Thapelo Mamogale

THE NORTHERN Cape High Court yesterday found that a former SANDF sergeant had “played God” by “taking away” a mother, daughter and sister when he murdered his wife by shooting her with a R4 assault rifle at a Kimberley guest house in 2012.

John “Thapelo” Mamogale was yesterday sentenced to an effective 12 years direct imprisonment by Judge Cecile Williams, after earlier being convicted of murder (with direct intent) and the unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition.

Mamogale had been found guilty of the murder of his spouse, Shelley, who died in a room at the Boitumelo Jwa Sechaba Guest House in Minerva Gardens on February 5, 2012 as a result of a gunshot to the head.

Mamogale used an assault rifle that he had “booked out” from the SANDF shortly before the murder, which occurred amidst allegations that his wife was having an extramarital affair.

A post-mortem revealed that the bullet had entered Shelly’s cheek, below her eye, exited through her jaw and re-entered her chest. The fatal shot was fired from less than 30cm away from the deceased’s face and it was further found that she was on her knees (in a submissive position), with Mamogale standing over her, as the fatal shot came from above.

Judge Williams, during yesterday’s sentencing, described the murder as an “intimate partner crime emanating from a love triangle situation”, adding that Mamogale suspected that his wife was having an extramarital affair and confronted both the deceased and her lover on the day of the murder.

Mamogale was found with the muzzle of the assault rifle in his mouth after shooting his wife but the police managed to convince him to hand himself over.

He was 29 years old at the time of the murder and Shelley was 26. The couple’s daughter is now 10 years old.

Judge Williams said yesterday that there was no doubt that Mamogale was a first offender and that his personal circumstances were favourable, but that it was only one of the factors to be taken into account in in the determination of an appropriate sentence, adding that the nature of the crime and the interest of the community also needed proper consideration.

Judge Williams further said that it was clear from evidence presented that Momogale was not a caring husband but rather extremely jealous and that his constant phoning of and checking up on the deceased caused friction, to the extent that the deceased decided that it would be better to divorce her husband.

“The deceased did no wrong, other than wanting to live her life independently of you, something which she, and every other woman, is entitled to. She was a young woman, a mother, daughter and sister, trying to improve her life, and no doubt the life of her daughter, when you decided to play God and take all of that away.

“If you have not done so yet, you will one day find yourself in the difficult position of having to explain to your daughter why you have deprived her of the most precious person a daughter can have in her life,” Judge Williams told Mamogale.

She went on to say that she disagreed with the State prosecutor, Theunis Barnard, who had argued that no substantial and compelling circumstances were present that would justify a deviation from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment.

“You have no past history of criminal tendencies, apart from this incident. This crime was committed while you were suffering from intense emotional strain and you appear to be no danger to the rest of society. With proper treatment in prison, I have no doubt that you will be able, on your release, to again be an asset to the community. It is for this reason that I am of the view that a lesser sentence than the prescribed minimum is justifiable and appropriate and would serve the purpose of punishment,” Judge Williams told Mamogale before sentencing him to five years for the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition (the two counts taken together) and 10 years imprisonment for the murder.

Judge Williams, however, ordered that three years of the five-year sentence run concurrently with the 10-year sentence, meaning that Mamogale will serve an effective jail term of 12 years.