By Staff Reporter
QWAQWA – Acting Judge Solomn Tsanarakis has sentenced a Lesotho national Tshepo Lesoetsa (21) to 116 years in prison for three counts of murder, seven counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder and contravention of the Immigration Act.
His co-accused, Relebohile Lesuhlo was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for possession of stolen goods.
The case emanates from an incident in September 2021,where UFS students from QwaQwa campus in Phuthaditjhaba, were having a party at their private residence when three men wearing balaclavas entered their premises and started shooting at them. Three students were fatally shot, and one was admitted at the hospital. The accused ordered the students to strip naked and they took their clothes, cellular phones, and other properties.
Their conviction came after court heard that Lesoetsa made a confession but later denied it. The confession was however, admitted as evidence.
In aggravation, State Prosecutor, Advocate Dansi Mpemvane requested the court to impose life imprisonment on Lesoetsa because he attacked and shot at defenceless students without any provocation.
“The accused killed three unarmed students who were having a party and not in a position to defend themselves. He shot at them randomly and even attacked other students who were in their rooms. Some of the students were traumatized by the incident to a point that they quit their studies. The student who was shot at but survived, also quit his studies as he did not want anything to do with Phuthaditjhaba. The accused showed no remorse and failed to prove that substantial and compelling circumstances exist for imposition of a lesser sentence and therefore, the court must impose minimum sentences as prescribed by law,” said Mpemvane.
Judge Tsangarakis then sentenced Lesoetsa to three life terms for three counts of murder, 10 years for attempted murder, 15 years for each count of the seven counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances and 12 months for contravention of the Immigration Act. Lesuhlo was sentenced to 12 months for being in possession of suspected stolen goods.
The deceased include Sigcino Zimba, a first-year student hailing from Escourt in Kwazulu Natal.
The sentence is a relief to Sigcino’s devastated father, Zenzele Shibani Zimba, who had earlier told The Guard while cleaning his son’s room that he would be satisfied if the police can show him his son’s killers.
“Justice must be served. Just over the weekend, my son went home to visit us, but today it’s Wednesday and he is no more. I’m very shocked because we were anticipating that he will complete his studies and turn his home’s situation around since I am unemployed,” Zimba said.