Damian Parsons appeared in the Parow Regional Court this week before Magistrate Constance Nziweni.
Parsons was charged with ordinary robbery — robbery without the use of a weapon — but pleaded guilty to the less serious offence of theft of the cellphone, which prosecutor Barry van der Berg accepted.
The magistrate said the court would be failing in its duty if it did not sound a warning that crime, however serious or less serious a particular offence may be, had to be appropriately punished.
She said handbag or cellphone snatching from people in the street was so rampant in the court’s jurisdicton that society would be outraged over a sentence that was considered too lenient, or and which suggested a “mere slap on the wrist”.
The court took into account that Parsons had already been in prison awaiting trial but added that his incarceration was of his own doing.
She said people who bought stolen property from thieves created a market for the would-be snatcher.
She added: “The unsuspecting victim in this matter was in the street, minding her own business, when you pounced on her.”
She said the stolen cellphone was recovered “but that was due to the diligence and quick action of the police, and not to anything Parsons might have done”.
She said Parsons had the right to appeal, but warned him that his application to appeal had to be filed within 14 days.