Tears of joy as Greenacres jewellery heist killers jailed
Four sentenced for Greenacres murder
Tears of joy flowed amid sighs of relief in the Port Elizabeth High Court when four men convicted of the cold-blooded murder of an innocent bystander during a jewellery store heist received hefty sentences, including life in prison.
Judge Glenn Goosen did not pull any punches when handing down the sentences on Monday.
Describing the murder of Ronald Goduka, 67 – while sitting in his car in the parking lot of the Greenacres Shopping Centre following an armed robbery of Fischer’s Jewellers in July 2016 – as callous and uncaring, he said: “[Goduka’s] family are deeply traumatised.
“These are wounds which will take a very long time to heal, if ever.
“There is no discernable reason for the shooting of [Goduka] and none has been given by the accused.
“It was a cold-blooded and senseless action.”
Goduka’s friends and family, including his daughter Siphokazi, 34, who have attended the trial religiously since it started, wept as Goosen sentenced the killers.
“I am so happy. These are tears of joy, the first ones in a very long time,” Siphokazi said.
“Justice has been served. We are so happy, we have no words.”
Goduka’s son, Viwe, 32, said he was overjoyed to see justice had been served and thanked everyone involved in the case.
“My father can rest now – there is justice in South Africa,” Viwe said.
Siphokazi said as a result of the outcome, she would continue with her applications to become a prosecutor.
Goosen convicted Lindokuhle January, 23, Olwethu Dlanga, 23, Awonke Yako, 22, and Lonwabo Maweni, 43, in March on a number of counts including murder, attempted murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances, and unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition, among others.Damning evidence including CCTV footage, witness accounts and DNA evidence sealed the men’s fate after Goosen found their defence claims to be pathetic and laughable.“It was argued that their youthfulness [at the time of committing the offences] be considered a mitigating factor [in sentencing].“The only evidence that can be considered to prove immaturity is the presentence reports,” he said.“As is evident in the personal backgrounds [of January, Yako and Dlanga, they all] enjoyed a good upbringing.“There is no basis to find immaturity played any role [when committing the crimes].”Goosen found that their conduct on the day of the Fischer’s Jewellers armed robbery and murder of Goduka was careful and calculated.He said January was a danger to society and Maweni, who was sentenced to 18 years in prison for robbery in 2003, must be dealt with as a repeat offender.On July 29 2016, the four men, and a fifth person who died shortly after the incident, entered the Greenacres Shopping Centre armed with semiautomatic weapons.After scouting the surrounding area and robbing Fischer’s Jewellers at gunpoint, the gang ran into the parking lot where they attempted to hijack a vehicle parked near the entrance.Following the unsuccessful hijacking attempt and an exchange of gunfire with police, the men split up, with January approaching Goduka’s car.Moments later, Goduka was shot.January, Dlanga and Maweni then hijacked a VW Polo standing in the Cell C parking lot and made their way to Korsten, where January and Dlanga were arrested.Yako attempted to flee on foot but was arrested.Maweni was arrested in April 2017 after DNA evidence linked him to the crime.CCTV footage shown during the trial captured all four men in the jewellery store, running through the shopping centre and in the parking lot.“The killing [of Goduka] was senseless and gratuitous ... [January] acted with direct intention to kill,” Goosen said.He said though the men had all been convicted on the charge of murder as they had acted in common purpose, the moral blameworthiness of Dlanga, Maweni and Yako was somewhat reduced.He found none of the convicted men had provided the court with substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from prescribed minimum sentences.In total, January was sentenced to life in prison with an additional eight years.Dlanga and Maweni were sentenced to 35 years in total, while Yako received 30 years.