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Court to sentence unrest instigator

By Lethiwe Makhanya

The court will decide on Mdumiseni Khetha Zuma's (36) sentence at the end of the month.

Brookside Mall unrest instigator Mdumiseni Zuma
Convicted Brookside Mall unrest instigator Mdumiseni Zuma (36) appeared in Pietermaritzburg Magistrate's Court yesterday on charges relating to the 2021 July unrest. Photo: Nqubeko Mbhele

The state has submitted that the Brookside Mall unrest instigator should be sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment, while his attorney wants him to get a sentence of 10 years, suspended for five years.

The court will decide on Mdumiseni Khetha Zuma’s (36) sentence at the end of the month.

Zuma, originally from Nkandla, was found guilty of two cases of inciting public violence in September. The charges relate to incidents of looting and violence that occurred in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, in July 2021 — in particular, the burning of the Brookside Mall.

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Zuma’s attorney, Clive Turton, told the court that in sentencing it should consider Zuma’s personal circumstances, that he is still young and that, prior to his arrest, he was supporting his family as he has three children and a fiancée.

He said the report from the social development probation officer outlined the hardships that Zuma has encountered throughout his life.

He has one previous conviction which is more than ten years old. He has always been employed. There was no lengthy period where he was not employed. Crime itself is serious. Checkers Hyper lost millions of rands as a result of the looting and lives were lost. There were a number of people who were employed and many are still struggling after the looting.

“However, it should be noted that the accused was not there during the riot. There is no evidence that he was there,” he said.

He said an appropriate sentence is ten years’ imprisonment, suspended for five years.

State prosecutor, advocate Yuri Gangai, slammed the sentence as being too lenient. He said it will be like a slap in the face of the community, society, as well as Zuma.

He said the court must take into consideration the loss of life and the damage that was caused as a result of Zuma’s actions.

The accused must be punished. The court has a responsibility to sentence in such a way that it stops others from taking part in crimes such as this. The court needs to send out a message that such behaviour will not be tolerated …

ALSO READ | Case against Brookside Mall unrest instigator adjourned to November

He added that Zuma has shown no remorse, presenting a version that he was being playful and that he was drunk.

“His remorse is the fact that he got caught and he had to face the consequences. He never said a word about the harm that he caused others,” he said.

Gangai added that the court must impose the harshest sentence.

The matter was adjourned to November 29 for sentencing.