Convicted homophobic killer Christo Oncke will spend the next 17 years behind bars.
While the State had asked for life, Judge Siraz Desai found there was compelling evidence to deviate from the minimum prescribed sentence.
Desai believes Oncke, 30, did not act alone, and that, coupled with Oncke’s diminished mental state, was enough to give him a lighter sentence for the brutal murder of gay man, Dawid Olyne.
Dawid was tied up, beaten and set alight while he was still alive in March 2014 in the Ceres area.
During the High Court sitting at Ceres Magistrates’ Court yesterday, Desai said the murder “had the hallmarks of a hate crime”.
During argument in aggravation of sentence, State prosecutor Advocate Ntsoaki Mabilietse said the murder was very brutal.
“The deceased was severely assaulted, strangled, tortured, tied up and set alight while still alive. The gay community has a right to be protected as it has become common for members of this community to be assaulted every day.”
She asked the court to hand down a life sentence, but Desai found that while Oncke had initiated the assault on Dawid, he had not acted alone.
The judge requested the investigating officer not to close the case, and to keep looking for the other culprits.
Desai also found that while Oncke had six previous convictions, they were for “petty” crimes.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson for the Western Cape, Eric Ntabazalila, said Oncke maintained his innocence throughout his trial.
Judge Desai said homophobia was prevalent in the Ceres community and added he had asked the Human Rights Commission and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to run a programme on issues of gender and homosexuality.
The NPA has welcomed the sentence.