25 years for Richmond farm robbers

2013-08-28 00:00

RICHMOND pensioners Francis (76) and Gillian (75) Howard were forced to sacrifice their pleasant country lifestyle for a secure townhouse, suffering the emotional loss of pets after an armed robbery at their farm, Waterford, in November 2009.

This was revealed in a victim impact statement submitted by Gillian Howard at the trial of two assailants who were each handed effective jail sentences of 25 years by regional magistrate Rose Mog­wera this week.

Mogwera further ordered that Nkanyiso Nxele (29) and Skumbuzo Sithole (29) must serve 16 years of their sentences before they can be considered for parole.

The two were found guilty of housebreaking and robbery with aggravating circumstances, attempted murder and the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

A third attacker, Sibonelo Zungu (25), was jailed effectively for 12 years by Judge Achmat Jappie in the high court in July 2010 after Zungu pleaded guilty to the housebreaking and robbery charges at that time.

The Howard couple did not suffer physical injuries during the attack as they locked themselves into a bedroom while the intruders ransacked the house.

The assailants gained entry by firing indiscriminately at the farmhouse, shattering windows and damaging walls.

They thereafter kicked open the front door.

In her statement, Gillian said she and her husband had moved to the rented farm to pursue their love for horses and enjoy the “peace and beauty” of country life.

After 13 years without incident they had felt secure and protected.

When they were attacked, they experienced “disbelief, surprise and a numbing fear of the consequences, ie injury, rape, death”.

Feelings of desperation, anguish and helplessness followed as almost an hour passed with the “panic siren blaring and continuous gunshots exploding” before help arrived, she said.

When he pleaded guilty in the high court, Zungu said it was Sithole who had suggested that they commit a robbery at Waterford farm while the three of them were drinking together at a tavern.

On the way there he had seen Sithole hand Nxele a shotgun.

“On arrival Nxele indiscriminately fired several shots at the farmhouse with the effect that several windows were broken. Sithole and Nxele kicked the front door till it gave way. The three of us then forced our way into the house.”

Zungu said once inside they had gathered together goods and appliances and stacked them on a verandah.

They had realised that the Howards had locked themselves in a bedroom but they did not try to get in because this gave them the opportunity to rob them without confronting them.

Zungu said they had started to cook a meal — frying minced meat they found in the fridge — but they fled when they saw security guards approaching the farmhouse.

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