Johannesburg — The wife of convicted Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah, Azuka, said on Tuesday that he was her "forever guy" and that she would stand by him despite his 24-year jail sentence.
"Henry is a forever guy. No matter what, he is stable and faithful to me and I don't care what anyone else says," a visibly emotional Azuka Okah told journalists outside the High Court in Johannesburg. "We have this forever love."
Okah was sentenced on Tuesday to in effect 24 years' imprisonment for 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in January.
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"These are serious charges." Judge Neels Claassen said in handing down sentence. "The accused has not accepted any responsibility for the crimes committed, nor has he shown remorse."
Okah was also found unfit to operate weapons.
His wife told journalists she was happy their four children were on holiday, and that she was thinking of how to tell them.
"The kids are the ones I am worried about... I will get over it, but I need to protect the kids."
She expected the State to appeal because it had wanted the maximum sentence.
"We have come this far and I just ask for strength going forward," she said.
As police were about to escort Okah to the court holding cells, he turned and blew kisses to her. She smiled as she jokingly caught the kisses, before blowing him kisses.
Nineteen police officers were present in court during the proceedings on Tuesday.
The State and Okah's defence indicated they would appeal the sentence.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokeswoman Phindi Louw declined to say whether the State would appeal for the imposition of a heavier sentence.
"No sentence is ever too soft, but as the NPA we do accept these results. But we are mapping the way forward to appeal against the sentence," she said.
In sentencing Okah, Claassen said it would be wrong for the court to turn a blind eye to the fact that the "struggle in Nigeria was for a good cause" and said it was important to balance Okah's political intentions with the violent nature of his crimes.
He found three "compelling circumstances" justifying a lesser sentence.
The charges related to two car bombs detonated in Abuja, Nigeria, on October 1, 2010, the anniversary of the country's independence. Twelve people were killed and 36 were injured.
Another bombing took place in Warri on March 15, 2010 at a post amnesty dialogue meeting. One person was killed and 11 were seriously injured.
In both bombings, two car bombs went off minutes apart. The cars were parked in close proximity to each other.
Claassen sentenced Okah to 12 years' imprisonment for each of the bombings, and to 10 years for threats made to the South African government after his arrest in October 2010. The 10 years would run concurrently with the 24 years.
Outside the court, prisoner rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu stood at attention, dressed in orange prison overalls with chains wrapped around him.
There were two posters at his feet. They read: "Henry Okah is a political detainee & not a terrorist, says Sapohr" and "Henry Okah's trial re-enacts Rivonia trial of 1964, says Sapohr."
Sapohr is the SA Prisoners' Organisation for Human Rights.
Bhudu told people gathered around him that South Africa had no right to put Okah on trial for something which happened in Nigeria, and that Okah was not a terrorist.