A sentence must achieve the right balance between the committed crime, the interest of society and the personal circumstances of the criminal. A sentence is also not supposed to be vengeful but must rehabilitate the offender. These were the words of Magistrate Gayle Pretorius at the Randburg Magistrates’ Court while handing down sentence to a man found guilty of attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances.
On 24 April, Thabo Maponya (45), together with four accomplices, attempted a smash-and-grab during peak hour traffic on Jan Smuts Avenue. It is understood that both windows of the vehicle were wound down. According to evidence led in court, Maponya and four his accomplices attempted to rob two males (who were brothers), driving a Nissan bakkie.
The testimony in court was that two of the men went to the passenger side of the vehicle while the other three went to the driver’s side where they pointed what looked like a firearm at the driver and tried to grab his car keys from the ignition. The other two on the passenger side tried to grab a laptop and cellphone from the passenger. Both occupants of the vehicle resisted and did not comply with any demands from the criminals. They did all they could to protect their belongings. At some point during the commotion, the victims got out of the vehicle and gave chase to the criminals. The other four managed to escape, while Maponya was the only one who was arrested as it is understood that he tripped and fell while he tried to run away.
In her sentence, Pretorius noted that Maponya never told the court or police who the other four people were or where they could be found. The magistrate pointed out that the offence was premeditated and that Maponya and his accomplices capitalised on windows that were wound down. “It cannot be said that law-abiding citizens are deprived of their freedom to drive with windows open.”
Pretorius added that the incident left the two victims traumatised. “One of the witnesses told the court that he hoped that he and his brother would not be shot.”
The magistrate sentenced Maponya to 10 years’ imprisonment, wholly suspended for five years, on condition that he is not found guilty of any offence related to dishonesty, which includes robbery, attempted robbery, theft and housebreaking.
Pretorius said with this sentence, she was giving the offender a chance to fix his life. She noted that Maponya had been in custody since his arrest in April. “With this sentence, you are given a chance to rehabilitate yourself within the confines of the community.”
The magistrate concluded that it was now in the hands of the father of three children to decide whether he wants to take care of them and raise them well or if he would like to see his children visit him on weekends in jail.