Unremorseful ex-security guard gets 20 years

Joel Fenton Pillay was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the murder he committed on July 12, 2021.

Joel Fenton Pillay was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for the murder he committed on July 12, 2021.

Published Mar 30, 2024


A Former Verulam security guard has been give a jail sentence for the premeditated murder of Lindani Mthethewa during the July 2021 looting and public violence..

On Monday, Judge Mohini Moodley sentenced Joel Fenton Pillay, 38, to 20 years imprisonment for the murder he committed on July 12, 2021.

He was convicted last Wednesday.

At the time, Mthethwa, 28, a supervisor at Shoprite, was walking on Ireland Street in Verulam when Pillay drove past him in a marked vehicle owned by a security company. He then turned his vehicle around and drove back towards Mthethwa.

Once alongside him, Pillay lowered the window of his vehicle and shot Mthethwa in the head. He died at the scene.

NPA regional spokesperson, Natasha Ramkisson-Kara, said in sentencing Pillay, the court deviated from the minimum sentence of life imprisonment, citing that he was a first offender when he committed the offence. Pillay was also found unfit to possess a firearm.

Pillay was arrested and charged with murder in October 2021. He spent six months in prison before being granted bail in March 2022.

Although the shooting occurred during the unrest, Judge Moodley said there was no evidence to prove the killing was linked to it (the unrest).

During sentencing, Pillay, who had elected to remain silent throughout his trial, testified. He told the court that he had completed Grade 12, and a year after matriculating he had undergone security training for three months.

Pillay said he had a partner, who was a nurse, and they had two children - aged 10 and two.

In the state's case, Advocate Thabani Buthelezi led the testimony of two eyewitness who saw the shooting as well as details of the tracking device that was installed on the vehicle that Pillay drove on the day of the incident.

Buthelezi also submitted a Victim Impact Statement compiled by Mthethwa’s half-sister, and facilitated by Court Preparation Officer Thandeka Nadi Mofokeng.

In her statement, she described Mthethwa as a responsible and hard working person. She said that her family had been financially and emotionally affected by her brother’s death. She added that the incident was traumatic, as she still had flashbacks.

Under cross examination, Buthelezi asked Pillay if he wanted to say anything to the deceased’s family or if he had any remorse.

To that Pillay replied: “Sorry, no I am not sorry. I did not commit any crime.”

Thiagara Prem Pillay, the legal aid attorney representing the accused, asked the court to consider that he was a first time offender, his health condition, his age at the time of the incident and that he was a family man.

Buthelezi asked the court to look at the seriousness of the offence.

“When the deceased was killed, he was still of a young age, under age 30. He was killed in a callous manner, shot execution style at the back of his head, and the bullet went through his forehead.

“He did not deserve to die such a brutal death at such a young age. Every year thousands of murders are reported to police. Society is not safe. Anyone can lose their life in a blink of an eye.”

He said Mthethwa had been supporting his family and sending money back home for food.

“He supported his children. His family has lost a breadwinner. His family is struggling and his sister had to drop out of school at Grade 11 because there was no one to pay for her transport to school. He did not have a funeral policy and his family had to arrange the funeral which cost R24 000.”

He asked the court to look at Pillay’s behaviour prior, during and after the commission of the offence.

“He took steps to make sure the crime was not traced back to him. One striking feature is that the accused has shown no remorse. He was seen by eye-witnesses and he threatened the eye-witnesses not to go to the police.”

He said Pillay’s lack of remorse and the pain caused to the family showed that he did not have the potential to be rehabilitated.

Buthelezi said the life imprisonment was the appropriate sentence.

When handing down sentence, Judge Moodley said Mthethwa was shot from behind and oblivious to the attack and had no time to flee.

She said Pillay had not shown any remorse for his actions and continuously contradicted himself even when explaining his personal circumstances.

Sandile Sangwelie, Mthethwa’s relative, said the family were relieved that justice had been served.

“We went through a lot of pain when he went missing. We went to different mortuaries to find his body and we are happy we have finality in the matter.”

Prem Balram, the head of Reaction Unit South Africa where Pillay was employed at the time of committing the crime, welcomed the sentencing: “When we discovered that he was involved in the murder, we suspended him and thereafter dismissed him. We will not tolerate any form of criminality within our organisation.”

Pillay’s family declined to comment.


Related Topics:

civil unrest