Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
FOUR Makokoba teenage gangsters who teamed up and fatally stabbed another teenager with a flick knife in a turf war were yesterday each sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail.
The territorial dispute between boys from Burombo Flats and Makokoba suburb in Bulawayo led to the fatal stabbing of Bruce Mashoko, 18, on November 8 last year.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese convicted Floyd Sibanda, 18, Leveson Mlotshwa, 19, Sandile Makhalima, 18, and Shelton Ndlovu, 18, of murder with constructive intent.
Justice Makonese, in his judgment, said the crime was committed in typical gangster fashion. He said the rivalry between the two groups was extremely volatile and sparked the attack.
In passing the sentence, Justice Makonese took into account the fact that the teenagers were from a poor background as well as their youthfulness.
“Clearly the teenagers were the aggressors who lacked maturity when they committed the crime and that can be attributed to their youthfulness. They acted in the spur of the moment and the courts also take into account the fact that their parents rendered financial assistance towards the funeral,” said the judge.
He said the courts have a duty to uphold the sanctity of life through passing deterrent sentences.
“The courts frown upon any act of violence and the use of knives in resolving disputes. Life was needlessly and senselessly lost in a crime committed in a typical gangster fashion and the courts have a duty to protect the sanctity of life. A lengthy prison term is most appropriate and accordingly you will spend 10 years in jail,” ruled Justice Makonese.
Prosecuting, Khumbulani Ndlovu said last year shortly after 11PM, Bruce and his friend Bhekinkosi Sibanda were on their way home from a house in their neighbourhood where they had been watching a football match on television.
The court heard that they were spotted by the four teenagers from a distance.
When Bruce and Bhekinkosi got closer, one of the members of the gang, Leveson, advanced towards them and demanded cigarettes.
Bruce and Bhekinkosi ignored Leveson but his accomplices Sandile, Floyd and Shelton blocked them from proceeding with their journey. The gang had on two occasions tried to attack them over a girl whose brother was part of the group.
The gang grabbed Bruce but Bhekinkosi managed to escape leaving his friend at the mercy of the gang.
The court heard that one of the four teenagers stabbed Bruce with a knife on the left side of the chest and he collapsed. He was rushed to Mater Dei Hospital where he died on admission.
Bhekinkosi alerted neighbours and led police to the teenagers’ respective houses and they were arrested.
Sandile was represented by Nkosilathi Mlala, Shelton by Leslie Sibanda while Doreen Phulu was Floyd’s lawyer.
Emmanuel Mlalazi represented Leveson.
In mitigation through their lawyers, the teenagers pleaded for leniency, arguing that it was not their intention to kill Bruce.
The lawyers said their clients have suffered enough as Bruce’s families are also demanding a compensation of $2,000 and five beasts from each of the teenagers’ parents.