Family relieved as killers get life terms

2009-06-17 00:00

THE family of a retired Swartberg couple who were brutally tortured and beaten to death on their farm in July 2007 have expressed relief that sentences of life plus 20 years’ imprisonment were imposed on the killers

High court Judge Gregory Kruger in Durban sentenced Simon Duma (22) and a relative, Bonginkosi Duma (28), to two terms of life impri­sonment for each of the two murders, and to 20 years’ imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances.

Kruger ordered that a copy of his judgment be attached to their prison records for reference if the killers are considered for parole — which, he ordered, may not be considered before they have served 25 years.

Raymond Fitch (78), and his wife, Yvonne (79), were beaten to death on Two Springs farm on July 20, 2007, but before they died their attackers set fire to plastic grocery packets and dripped the molten plastic on their bodies to force them to produce keys to a safe.

State advocate Ross Stuart SC said evidence revealed the couple suffered broken ribs and other multiple injuries. At least two of the weapons used were a heavy frying pan and a tennis racket.

The court accepted a confession by Simon Duma in connection with the attack and police recovered a stolen firearm from him.

Bonginkosi Duma was linked to the crimes via his DNA found on a cigarette butt at the murder scene, as well as his possession of a pair of pants stained with Raymond Fitch’s blood.

The couple’s daughter, Leslie Duffy of Pietermaritzburg, said she is still battling to come to terms with the way her parents suffered.

“I’m glad the killers are behind bars, but I still can’t get my mind around the fact that human beings can do such things to other human beings,” she said.

Her sister-in-law, Murrell Fitch, who with her husband, Jeff, found the couple, said they hope police will soon arrest a third suspect.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the court case and we want to thank the police team for their dedication and our community for their support.”

She said her parents-in-law were frail and would have been unable to fight their attackers.

The killers gained entry by breaking a large window.

The phone lines, panic buttons and farm radio were cut off.

Duffy said that ironically her parents never kept anything of value at home. The only items taken were a handgun, which they kept at their bedside for protection, about R700, a “very old” computer and an older Mercedes-Benz car, which was later found abandoned.

Simon Duma grew up on the Fitches’ farm, where both his parents worked, but he was asked to leave as he was a troublemaker.

ingrido@witness.co.za

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