Life plus 21 years for Early killers

2012-09-19 00:00

TWO killers of Hibberdene couple Christopher (69) and Jennifer Early (63) were yesterday handed two life sentences plus jail terms totalling 21 years each.

Passing sentence on Rouben Lochenberg (24) and Mbongeni Hamilton Nxumalo (28), Judge Kevin Swain said it was simply unacceptable that elderly law-abiding citizens should have to live in fear in their own homes.

Judge Swain said the two accused had set out to rob the Earlys armed with a knife and bush knife respectively.

“The plan of the accused to rob the deceased in the sanctity of their own home was not only cowardly, but callous and vicious.

“The deceased were shown no mercy,” the judge said.

Any resistance the couple showed resulted in Christopher Early being chopped with the bush knife and Jennifer Early being “executed by a single shot to the chest”, he said.

He said post-mortem reports recorded Christopher Early’s cause of death as being “sharp force head injuries”.

His skull had been fractured and he suffered several incised wounds to the back of his head, his wrist, hands and ankles.

From the accuseds’ statements to the court, it appeared that Christopher Early was attacked in that way by Nxumalo after he drew a gun to defend himself and his wife when the pair accosted them in the yard of their home.

Jennifer Early was shot in the chest (also by Nxumalo) using the gun taken from her husband.

This was because she resisted by “striking” at the attackers with her hands.

The robbery and murder of the Early’s took place on their smallholding in Hibberdene on July 15, 2010.

The couple were formerly from the UK.

Nxumalo and Lochenberg pleaded guilty to the robbery and murder, as well as related charges of unlawful possession of firearms.

They described in statements to the court how they grabbed the couple while they were closing the gate to their property.

Nxumalo had struck Christopher Early with the bush knife outside before the men forced his wife into the house.

When she resisted, she was shot.

After ransacking the house, Nxumalo and Lochenberg placed the bodies of the couple into the boot of their Volvo car.

They were forced to abandon the vehicle after Nxumalo lost control and it left the road.

A third accused, who is charged with being an accessory to the robbery of the couple, pleaded not guilty and his trial was separated.

He is expected to stand trial sometime next year.

• ingrido@witness.co.za

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