In a relatively quick turnaround time, a former research assistant was this week sentenced to an effective 18 years imprisonment for the murder of Makhanda resident Tulani Tambo, just five months after the incident.
In the High Court in Makhanda, Judge J Rugunanan on Wednesday 29 January sentenced Odwa Rala to five years for housebreaking with intent to commit murder, 18 years for murder and six years for attempted murder. The judge ruled that the first and third sentences would run concurrently. The murder took place on 11 August 2019 at Tambo’s home.
Rala, 28, broke into Tambo’s home that Sunday, furious and overwhelmed with jealousy after being told his longtime girlfriend was there. He had planned to kill Tambo and did so, but also tried to kill his girlfriend. He’d been in a relationship with her for 10 years, according to court documents.
Counting strongly in mitigation against the discretionary minimum life sentence for murder was the fact that he was remorseful and voluntarily handed himself over to the police.
“He facilitated the investigation and prosecution of the matter all wihin a relatively short space of time since August 2019 and has since been in custody to date,” the Judge noted.
The Judge did not accept the fact that the murder had been a “crime of passion” as a mitigating factor.
“To attach mitigatory value to the notion of a crime of passion may… in the circumstances of this matter signal an inappropriate message to society,” Judge Rugunanan said.
In handing down a long sentence, he said, “The gravity of the offences and particularly the extent of the violence perpetrated on the victims necessitate this.”
Appearing for the State was Advocate Nico Henning from the Department of Public Prosecutions. For Rala, Advocate Monica Mazibukwana, from Legal Aid South Africa appeared.