Life in prison. Five years for drug possession. And another five for defeating the ends of justice. The judge took no mercy upon Nicholas Ninow this week, following a two-day sentencing hearing in Pretoria. With the courtroom drama sidelined in the afternoon, the cold, hard bottom-line of justice was the only thing that remained.
In the last 48 hours or so, Ninow’s defence has been sneered at by the state. His own testimony proved to be ineffective, and as for the poem he wrote and read-out for the victim, well… that was probably enough to make anyone question just how sincere his alleged “remorse” was.
Why the judge implemented a life sentence
In fact, Judge Mosopa – the man who handed down the harshest possible punishment to the Dros Rapist – made a fascinating point in when reading out his decision. He said that Ninow was capable of showing regret, but not remorse. That’s certainly the best way of putting things – he may have been apologetic, but displayed little in the form of empathy when discussing his victim and her family.
The moment the whole of South Africa was waiting for arrived on Thursday afternoon. After a short recess, the court returned for the final sentencing. The defence threw everything they had at the case, in terms of digging up mitigating factors to shorten any potential jail time.
Watch: Nicholas Ninow reacts to devastating life sentence
The gallery was packed, made up predominantly of political activists and EFF members. The judge took just under 30 minutes to deliver his verdict, after weighing up each side of the debate. He did not look favourably upon Nicholas Ninow, and sentenced the convicted criminal to life – the reactions say it all:
— Newzroom Afrika (@Newzroom405) October 17, 2019
Ninow’s deadpan reaction is broken only by the slightest of nods. His eyes glazed, he wearily accepts his fate. Looking defeated, the 21-year-old showed no signs of consternation. At this point, it’s unclear if he will appeal the decision or not – but he looked in no frame of mind to challenge the decision on Thursday.
Behind him was a contrasting scene of joy and relief. The politically-connected onlookers, from different backgrounds and beliefs, cheered in unison as the verdict was shared. There was even a round of singing and dancing from the jubilant observers, who have been pushing for a life sentence since last September.