St Albans Prison warder’s killers wait to hear fate

Killers Jean- Claude Uithaler, left, Khawulelani Gqunta, centre, and Siinethemba Mfihlo
Killers Jean- Claude Uithaler, left, Khawulelani Gqunta, centre, and Siinethemba Mfihlo
Image: Eugene Coetzee

The three men convicted of what was described as a heinous, brutal and heartless murder which left an off-duty St Albans Prison warder with a crushed skull and at least 30 stab wounds will have to wait more than six weeks to be sentenced.

During the pre-sentencing proceedings of Jean-Claude Uithaler, 25, Khawulelani Gqunta, 24, and Sinethemba Mfihlo, 24, grim details of the injuries suffered by Quinton David Williams, 45, were laid bare by the state, who asked judge Irma Schoeman for the three to be sentenced to life.

On Wednesday, the Port Elizabeth High Court heard how the three men, aged between 19 and 20 at the time of the attack, planned the murder of Williams on the night of June 14 2014 after he left a tavern in Booysen Park.

In aggravation of sentencing, prosecutor Garth Baartman said that although the men had been incarcerated for more than five years while awaiting the conclusion of their trial, this did not amount to substantial and compelling circumstances to deviate from the prescribed minimum sentence of life for murder.

“[Williams] was treated like an animal, almost as if he was slaughtered, and left in a pool of blood with a broken skull, in the middle of the road. “The offences were heinous. “The attack lasted more than an hour – almost two hours according to [the eyewitness],” Baartman said.

Uithaler, Gqunta and Mfihlo were convicted in May of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

According to Baartman none of the men showed any remorse for their actions.

Williams’ ex-wife Elise Marais said his death had traumatised her and their four daughters to such an extent that their 16-year-old daughter had dropped out of school.

He had been the breadwinner and they had all depended on him for financial support.

In mitigation of sentencing Uithaler’s advocate, Elsabet Theron, asked the court to take into consideration his youthfulness at the time, that he had been under the influence of alcohol and came from a very difficult background.

Both legal representatives for Gqunta and Mfihlo, attorney Ryno Scholtz and advocate Gerrit Cillier respectively, claimed similar circumstances.

Sentence is expected on November 1.