Farmer, employee await fate

2012-10-12 00:00

SENTENCE will be passed today on Vryheid businessman and farmer Johan Els (52) and his employee Mduduzi Mkhize (26), arising from the 2005 murder of a man who was stabbed to death with a hunting knife.

Els had ordered that Mbhekiseni Nyathi be found and apprehended because he suspected him of involvment in break-ins at his house.

Nyathi was stabbed to death by Mkhize on December 23, 2005.

High court judge Fikile Mokgohloa also convicted Els and Mkhize of the kidnapping and attempted murder of Nyathi’s friend Sifiso Linda, who was picked up by Els and his associates the same day.

He was taken to Els’s property at Zaailagte and locked inside a workshop, where he was stabbed nine times by Mkhize, but survived.

Two other men — Andre Els (51) and Christoffel Diedericks (32) — were convicted only of Linda’s kidnapping.

Mkhize testified yesterday that he was sorry for what he had done and begged the court for mercy and forgiveness.

Els said he was heartsore that a man had lost his life and another was injured on his property.

The court heard, however, that Els dis not accept guilt, and intended to appeal his conviction for being an accessory to Nyathi’s murder and the other offences. Els became emotional in court and wiped tears away as he told the court that he would have acted differently with hindsight.

“I do not sleep at night; I’m being honest. A man was stabbed, a person was injured on my property. That’s very serious. I get along very well with the black people in my area,” he said.

The court heard that Els was a Christian who was active in recruiting people for the Bambi Christian camps.

Mvuseni Mthethwa, who is known to and worked with Els all his life, told the court that the farmer was always willing to help his workers.

He said he and others would lose their jobs and ability to support their families if Els’s timber business closed.

State advocate Dorian Paver said the state agreed with a social worker’s report which recommended André Els and Diedericks should be sentenced to correctional supervision for their role in Linda’s kidnapping.

However, he submitted that the feelings of the local community and families of the victims would not be assuaged by correctional supervision being imposed on Johan Els.

Paver said Nyathi had been brutally killed by Mkhize, who had searched for him and then pursued him with a large hunting knife in hand over 250 metres.

When he caught up with him in a forest, he stabbed him repeatedly.

Paver said Nyathi was not armed when attacked and that it was a miracle that Linda had survived being stabbed nine times.

Advocate Christo van Schalkwyk SC urged the court to consider correctional supervision coupled with a compensation order for Johan Els, as sending him to jail would not benefit the community nor the victims’ families.

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