Killers’ life terms a small comfort to farmer’s family

2014-04-28 00:00

IT brought small comfort to the family of slain KwaZulu-Natal farmer Willem Weites (78) when two of his killers, Mzomuhle Ntshangase (30) and Moses Sigawuge (34), were jailed for life plus 15 years on Friday for the role they played in his murder.

A third man, Big-Boy Ncube (29), who was not part of the planning and only found out at the last minute that the robbery was to take place, was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder, plus 15 years’ for aggravated robbery.

The sentences in the case of all three of the killers were ordered to run concurrently.

The three pleaded guilty to attacking Weites, his daughter, Everlien, and farm workers at their farm, Welkom, near Vryheid on the morning of October 21.

Everlien and her mother, Gerdina (76), were assaulted by the robbers who took R40 000 cash, jewellery, cellphones and a bakkie.

According to the evidence, Weites was shot after he threw a spanner at the attackers, who were carrying knives and firearms.

Everlien Weites testified that whenever she even sees a knife now she is reminded of what happened.

After Friday’s hearing she told The Witness she was satisfied that just sentences were meted out to the three killers.

“It won’t bring my dad back and it certainly won’t make any difference to my future,” she said.

“I think it is a relief to know that at least they [the killers] have been caught thanks to the police and now also sentenced thanks to the judge,” she said afterwards.

Weites said that her father’s murder has ended her dream of being a farmer. She helped her father to milk his cows and to sell the milk and mielie meal that he produced and sold to the local community.

Her 76-year-old mother, Gerdina, who was also a victim of the robbery, found she could no longer live on the property and has moved to an old age home.

Everlien and her sister have already sold all the cows and implements, and are negotiating the sale of the farmland.

Imposing the sentences on the three men who pleaded guilty to the charges, Judge Thoba Poyo-Dlwati said it was neither unjust nor unfair that those who took the farmer’s life should spend the rest of their lives being punished.

Before he was sentenced, the mastermind of the robbery, Ntshangase, took the witness stand and apologised to Weites’s family, the court and the local community, who are suffering as a result of his murder.

Ntshangase admitted that he’d known Weites well and knew how much the community liked him.

The judge said even though it appeared Ntshangase now appreciated the consequences of his actions, she found that the remorse expressed by the trio in their pleas to the court was not genuine.

She said there was overwhelming evidence against them and they “really had no choice” but to plead guilty.

Because of their actions 10 farm workers had lost their jobs, and they and their families would suffer.

She said the three accused all had sources of income and were motivated by greed.

“Law-abiding citizens are justifiably sick and tired of crime, particularly brutal crimes like these committed by the accused,” Poyo-Dlwati said.

• Two other accused who have been arrested will stand trial separately for the murder and robbery.

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