Gardener convicted of killing pensioner

2012-06-13 09:46
Pretoria - A former gardener who claimed he had killed his elderly employer in a fit of rage was found guilty of murder and theft by the North Gauteng High Court on Tuesday.

Jacob Pantsi Mmekwa, 32, of Stinkwater, was convicted of killing pensioner Sarel Koekemoer, 68, and stealing his cellphone and firearm.

Mmekwa claimed Koekemoer refused to pay him, and insulted him.

A second accused, Levy Mthombeni, 21, was acquitted of the murder, but found guilty of theft. Both were also found guilty of the illegal possession of Koekemoer's firearm and ammunition.

The matter was postponed to July 10 for sentencing.

Koekemoer's daughter Anja Swart found him in a pool of blood on his bathroom floor, on his smallholding near Bultfontein outside Pretoria, when he failed to arrive for a dinner date at her house.

Heated argument

According to an autopsy report Koekemoer died after being stabbed twice in the neck.

Mmekwa had been working for Koekemoer as a gardener for six months before the murder.

Mmekwa admitted stabbing Koekemoer, but said he had done so during a heated argument when Koekmoer accused him of stealing a grinder and a drill, set his dogs on him, threatened to kill him, and used a racist term. He said he had used Koekemoer's own knife to stab him.

Mthombeni claimed Mmekwa threatened him with a firearm and ordered him to search the house.

Judge Cynthia Pretorius rejected Mmekwa's statement that he had never been inside the house and only stabbed Koekemoer once.

She also rejected Mthombeni's claims that Mmekwa had threatened him, but acquitted him on the murder charge as the State could not prove that he had either planned, or taken part in the murder.

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