GWANDA magistrate Sheila Nazombe yesterday lashed out at Maphane residents for looting Beitbridge tycoon Christian Malila Ndou’s belongings next to his dismembered body following the horrific helicopter crash that took his life saying stealing from the dead was “not only criminal but morally unacceptable”.
Speaking before sentencing Hardlife Tavona Mupaneshure (27) and a 17-year-old juvenile for stealing R800 and a cellphone each from the wreckage of the wealthy businessman’s chopper and remains, Nazombe said she found it troubling and shameful that people could sacrifice their human conscience to steal from a dead person.
Nazombe said she found it shocking that Mupaneshure and the boy did not display any concern or sympathy for Ndou and instead of seeking for help, they sought to search for valuables to steal right next to a dismembered body.
Mupaneshure pleaded guilty to theft and Nazombe sentenced him to six months in prison of which two months were suspended on condition that he does not commit a similar offence within three years.
“You stole from a dead person. It is not only criminal, but morally unacceptable. I’m not going to order restitution since the complainant is late,” she said.
The juvenile, who had been in custody since being arrested on Saturday, escaped with a caution.
Clad in khakhi prison garb, the barefooted boy who evidently was confused by the court proceedings and spoke in a low tone, was spared jail after his mother’s testimony.
He had pleaded not guilty, but was convicted by the magistrate.
His mother told the court that her son had been pushed to steal by poverty as he had brought the money home to her to buy food. She asked the court to administer some strokes of the cane on the boy.
Before discharging him with a caution, Nazombe said to the boy: “You should learn to be honest. What is aggravating is that you stole from an accident scene.
“You were supposed to run and seek assistance. Depart from this dishonesty path.”
The court heard that Mupaneshure, the boy and Khulani Makaza, who is still at large, were among the first people to reach the crash site where they found Ndou’s property strewn in the bush.
They allegedly stole two Nokia cellphones with Vodacom sim cards, an unknown amount of cash and a battery torch. The three shared the loot with Mupaneshure and the boy each getting R800 and a Nokia cellphone.
The two alleged that Makaza took the lion’s share of the money and disappeared.