Pair get 35 years for farm attack

2011-10-03 00:00

TWO men have been sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment by the high court in Pietermaritzburg for attempted murder and housebreaking after they attacked a Richmond couple on their farm.

Bhani Dlamini and Skhumbuzo Sithole, both 27 and from Richmond, were each sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for housebreaking, 20 years for the attempted murder of Anthony Morris and another 20 years for the attempted murder of Caroline Morris.

In November 2009 they broke into the farmhouse of the couple and attacked them in their bedroom.

Before the sentence, state counsel Dheelan Naidoo led witness Koos Marais of KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanalu), who said that between 2001 and 2010 there were 109 murders of farmers in the province in 654 incidents with 776 injuries.

Marais said farmers are easy targets because of the long distances between them and the police and they end up paying more for security.

“These cases can differ from area to area, but they are motivated by greed and self-enrichment.

“Trust is built up over a number of years between the farmer and his staff. It is easy for new employees to give out information to the criminals.

“In most cases in these attacks the accused or attackers are known,” said Marais.

Judge Esther Steyn, after hearing the evidence by Marais, said the life of the couple changed in a flash when they were attacked in the comfort of their home while asleep.

“They were asleep, not armed, when attacked. Considering the nature of injuries they sustained they could have died on that night. They are lucky to be alive,”said Steyn.

The judge said the fact that Sithole was out on parole — for the unlicensed possession of a firearm, housebreaking with intent to steal and theft and aggravated assault — when he attacked the couple, makes a lesser sentence unjustifiable.

Judge Steyn added that the couple did not resist, but obeyed the orders they were given by the intruders, and she thus failed to understand why they were attacked like this.

Morris and his wife welcomed the sentence.

“Justice has been done and we both commend the work of the police investigators for apprehending them so quickly,” they said.

The judge ordered that Dlamini and Sithole must serve 20 years before they are considered for parole.

mlondi.radebe@witness.co.za

KOOS Marais said Kwanalu remains concerned about the effect of farm attacks. “Many farmers have given up farming in South Africa for fear of their families being attacked or have switched to products that are not stolen by syndicates. Switched-on farmers have gone to other African countries or overseas for the same reasons. The departure of such farmers means job losses for their former workers and many jobless workers and their families migrate to cities, putting a further strain on insufficient facilities,” he said.

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