State: Businessman's killers don't deserve mercy

Pretoria - A Pretoria businessman's killers could not ask mercy from the court when they had shown no mercy to their victim, the State has argued in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

Prosecutor Theo Moetaesi on Tuesday urged Judge Tshifiwa Maumela to sentence Lawyer Marabe Talane, 39, and Rodney Katang Masemola, 35, to life imprisonment for the May 2008 murder of Murrayfield businessman Dawie Maree.

Maree, 27, was fatally wounded during a struggle with an armed assailant in his house, in front of his wife Elana and his two young children. He died after being shot in the back.

Masemola was shot in the stomach and the pair's accomplice Seporo Martin Tshebesebe was shot dead during the attack.

Maumela said during his earlier judgment it was not clear from the evidence who had shot whom, but it was clear that the shooting had been prompted by Masemola and Tshebesebe illegally entering the Maree property.

He rejected the men's claims that they had been framed for the murder by racist white policemen.

Masemola's evidence that he and Tshebesebe were standing under a tree when Maree stormed out and shot them, whereafter Elana Maree emerged and fired a shot that killed her husband was also rejected.

The court said it was improbable that Maree's tiny wife could have carried the bodies of two men to the bedroom. There was also no evidence of drag marks or blood outside the house.

However, their lawyer, Paul Shapiro, on Tuesday still insisted that there was something "very odd" about the case and that the whole truth had not been revealed.

Shapiro argued that the court should take into account as mitigation that his clients had grown up under a system which treated them as inferior and gave them less opportunities.

He said Talane had nevertheless managed to get a diploma in business management and Masemola managed to train himself to some extent, even though he had pulled the short straw in life and never had a home or a family.

'Past should not be used as an excuse'

Maumela expressed concern a message might be sent out that white people in the country had to take extra safety measures because if a black person attacked them the perpetrators would get off more lightly.

He also expressed concern that it might send out a message that anyone who was white was no longer safe in South Africa.

Maumela said everyone had suffered under the previous regime in different ways, including white people who could not go into certain areas or marry who they wanted.

"...My sense is around the message that might be inadvertently sent that might encourage a certain attitude....That's not what we want.

"Remembering the past should not encourage an atmosphere where certain people feel unsafe under the same system," he said.

Moetaesi said the past should not be used as an excuse to commit crimes and the court should not send out the message that certain people would be treated more leniently simply because of the past.

He said Maree was brutally killed in front of his wife and children, who were still traumatised even today.

"Life imprisonment is an apt sentence. We all choose our destiny. The accused chose to spend the rest of their lives behind prison doors," he said.

Moetaesi stressed that Maree had employed 100 people and that the accused had, by killing him, deprived them and their dependents of an income.

The trial was postponed to 24 November for sentencing.