With bowed heads, Maarohanye and Tshabalala listened as Nemavhidi continued: “Those kids left home in the morning to go to school to better their lives and the lives of their families. As they were upstanding citizens, they did not go to town. They decided to go straight home. They did not arrive home that day.
“The other two who escaped death will never be regarded as productive members of the community. The father of one of the survivors said that he would send his son to get some water, and by the time he reaches the fridge he would have forgotten what he needed to get.”
The singer and his friend were found guilty in October on four counts of murder and two of attempted murder.
This stems from the March 8 2010 car crash when four teenage boys were killed and two others seriously injured.
“In your case, the prescribed sentence would be life in prison. The two of you are still very young. Accused one [Maarohanye] you’re 32. Accused two [Tshabalala] you’re 28.
“You do not have any previous convictions. The offence was not committed in such a manner that you said that you were going to kill school children today. At the time you started racing you knew that it was wrong.”
Each received 20 years for murder and four years for attempted murder. Each was sentenced to one year for driving under the influence of drugs, one year for drag racing on a public road and one year for using drugs. These three counts will run concurrently. In total, they received 27 years each, but will serve an effective 25 years.
There was no reaction from the two, who remained stoic throughout the reading of the sentence. The court was numb with silence as the victims’ families heard the outcome of the two-year trial.
The mothers of the teen boys who died were wailing throughout the sentencing.
Nemavhidi granted them leave to appeal, which will be heard on February 7.
National Prosecuting Authority spokeswoman Phindi Louw said they are happy with the sentences.
“Justice isn’t meant to ruin people’s lives, but to rehabilitate,” Louw said.
Earlier in the day, the prosecutor and both defence attorneys led evidence in aggravation and mitigation of sentence, and delivered closing arguments.
Maarohanye’s attorney, Rudi Krause, called two expert witnesses – a social worker and psychiatrist – to testify that the singer should be sentenced to community service rather than a lengthy sentence.
Maarohanye said he intended to start a trust fund for the families affected by the tragic accident and wanted to apologise for his conduct.
Krause asked the court to give Maarohanye the opportunity to make amends by starting the trust fund and erecting tombstones for the deceased.
“If the accused goes to jail, there will be no chance of healing for those affected.”
Prosecutor Raymond Mathenjwa insisted Maarohanye was not remorseful because he denied any wrongdoing.
“The fact is the accident took place,” Maarohanye said. “The kids died in an accident that I was involved in. I was responsible to a certain extent.”
Asked what he wanted to apologise for, Maarohanye said: “I’m apologising because I’m human. I apologise for being part of the accident.”
Tshabalala did not testify and sat in the dock with his head bowed the entire time.
His attorney, Mlungiseleli Soviti, said the offence was of a serious nature but reminded the court that Tshabalala has two children and is also looking after his mother, runs the family business, has no previous convictions and has been remorseful from the start.