A serial thief who asked to be given time to pray in the middle of a trial before pleading guilty and confessing his misdeeds, was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Bulawayo magistrate Mr Joseph Mabeza convicted Mlauzi on his own guilty plea to hijacking a taxi which he later burnt in a bid to conceal fingerprints evidence.
He sentenced him to 10 years in prison but suspended five years on condition that he changes his behaviour and also restitutes the complainant.
“Four years are suspended on condition that you do not commit a similar crime in the next five years and the remaining year is suspended on a condition that you restitute the complainant,” he said.
Mr Mabeza said he considered Mlauzi’s repentance as mitigatory but said courts were worried that robbery cases were on the increase hence deterrent sentences were called for.
Mlauzi’s co-accused Hloniphani Ndlovu (31) of Cowdray Park suburb who has pleaded not guilty, will be back in court on March 10 for continuation of trial.
On Wednesday, Mlauzi told the magistrate that he was tired of lying in court and asked the court to forgive him for wasting time.
“We committed these offences. I told Ndlovu not to take the cell phone (police used the gadget to track the duo). There’s no way the police would just pick on us and allege that we committed an offence. God has spoken to me. I’m willing to confess and tell the court all that transpired but before I do that may I be granted permission to pray,” said Mlauzi.
Mr Mabeza granted Mlauzi’s request.
Mlauzi prayed: “God, creator of heaven and earth, I’m sorry about these crimes that I have committed. I won’t do it again. Please give me strength to tell the whole truth during this trial. Amen.”
He thereafter went on to narrate his story to the court.
Prosecuting, Mr Tinashe Dzipe, told the court that on January 27 this year, Mlauzi, Ndlovu and another accomplice who is still at large, asked for a lift to Esigodini from Zhou.
“Mlauzi asked Zhou to turn at Falcon turnoff. He, Ndlovu and the other accused person ordered Zhou to disembark from his vehicle. They assaulted him but he managed to escape into a nearby bush. They took $40, a worksuit, a tool box and two cell phones before torching the vehicle,” said Mr Dzipe.