Fact Check: Dads handed vastly different sentences after shooting sons

Fact Check: Dads handed vastly different sentences after shooting sons

- A social media post recently put forward that two fathers had committed similar crimes, but received vastly different sentences

- The situation sparked a heated debate over racial inequality in South Africa's judicial system

- Briefly.co.za explores the two incidents to get to the facts behind it

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Two fathers made the same tragic mistake, resulting in the accidental deaths of their own sons.

After being taken by surprise, both parents had shot their precious children and, while many citizens were sympathetic, a social media post comparing the judgements handed down against them went viral.

Sibusiso Emanuel Tshabalala was reportedly handed a decade in prison while Coert Kruger walked away a free man.

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News24 reports were used side-by-side to illustrate the alleged injustice but what really happened and why the vastly different rulings?

Sibusiso Emanuel Tshabalala

“An Ennerdale father, who claimed that he had shot his son accidentally when he was startled by a knock on his car window, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which was suspended for five years.”

16-year-old Luyanda was accidentally shot and killed by his father in the parking lot outside his high school in Ennerdale, Gauteng last year.

Tshabalala was adamant that it had been a freak accident, explaining that he had been waiting in the car for his son on the fateful night when he had fallen asleep after a long day at work.

A knock on his window had startled the father, who had mistaken the teen for a hijacker and fired in his direction.

Facing charges of culpable homicide, the dad had been handed a 10-year sentence which was suspended for five years.

Coert Kruger

“A 51-year old man from Vanderbijlpark who mistook his son for a burglar and shot him dead has been released on a warning and will serve no jail time.”

Coert Jr had allegedly broken into his father's property, setting off an alarm in the process. Along with a private security firm, Kruger had gone to investigate.

The father had been waiting outside while officers checked the house when he spotted a person standing on the roof of his home.

Without realising that this intruder was actually his child, Kruger had fired a shot in the direction of the figure.

Africa Check reports that Kruger had been convicted of murder in September but the sentence was 'of caution and discharge' meaning that he was released on a warning and had avoided jail time.

What contributed to the different punishments?

While each father was handed a different sentence, neither is currently in prison and both left court as free men, Briefly.co.za gathered.

Law expert Stephan Terblanche insists that it would be impossible to comment before taking a close look at both incidents:

“Reactions based on a simplistic view of a sentence, based on just a few facts, are unlikely to get anywhere close to the truth or to be fair comment."

The University of South Africa professor had explained that the judgements in each matter would provide insight into why the call had been made.

Terblanche said that while the cases appear similar the law demanded an assessment of all the mitigating factors involved, the impact these circumstances have on the crime and the extent of blame against the offender in question:

“A court should not unfairly discriminate between people, especially not based on factors prohibited by the constitution, such as the person’s race or origin."

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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