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Last Updated: Friday, 2 May, 2003, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Racist SA killer sentenced for life

A white South African man has received three life sentences for the murder of three black commuters on a city bus after a judge rejected his argument that black people did not count as humans.

Artefacts at a white Afrikaner museum
Some white Afrikaners still glorify the days of apartheid

Jan Gabriel De Wet Kritzinger - allegedly a member of Israel Vision, an extreme white Christian sect - said in his defence that "black people are not my fellow men".

He also received 10 years each for the attempted murders of four other black commuters on the Pretoria city bus in January 2000.

"You coolly, calmly... cold-bloodedly prepared to shoot people," Judge Dion Basson was quoted as saying at Friday's sentencing at Pretoria High Court.

"You have no remorse, which marks out your deed as unscrupulous."

Kritzinger, 30, had said his religious beliefs had led to the shootings.

Holding a Bible, he said had been partly motivated by his ex-wife's wish to remarry - which he said would violate their faith.

Kritzinger's victims
Mduduzi Graeme Nyembe (bus driver)
Thembekile Constance Phasha (passenger)
Gogo Connie Mathebula (passenger)

Prosecutor Helen van Jaarsveld asked him whether the Bible did not forbid the killing of people as well.

"According to the Bible, I may not kill my fellow men. Black people are not my fellow men," he replied.

The families of Kritzinger's victims welcomed the sentence, while his supporters protested it was too harsh.

A Justice Ministry spokesman said the sentence would act as a warning to other racists.

"The sentence will send a strong message to those¿ with racist attitudes, that the criminal justice system will not tolerate their acts," said Paul Setsetse.




SEE ALSO:
Timeline: South Africa
02 May 03  |  Country profiles
SA police seek 'extremists'
12 Mar 03  |  Africa



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