Farm killer confesses

2009-07-23 00:00

JUDGE Ron McLaren condemned the recent murder of Rietvlei farmer Alan Rowe in the “strongest possible terms” when he sentenced one of his killers, Sibonelo Duma (22), to life plus five years’ jail yesterday.

Duma pleaded guilty in the high court in Pietermaritzburg to the murder and to attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances.

McLaren agreed with Duma’s lawyer, Ishi Khan, that it was mitigating that Duma was a first offender; that he was not armed at the time of the incident; that he is young; and that he showed remorse by pleading guilty. But he nonetheless played a “pivotal and crucial” role in Rowe’s murder and the interests of society demand that the minimum prescribed sentence be imposed on him, the judge said.

He said Duma — who worked for Rowe in 2008 and was dismissed by the farmer — was pivotal in hatching the plan to rob Rowe on May 13 and in leading the gang of eight to his home to commit the robbery.

“There was significant, extensive and careful planning that went into the execution of this farm murder,” the judge said.

He said one member of the robber gang possessed an R5 assault rifle, which is normally issued to the armed forces.

“It was obviously clear to every member of the gang that there was no possibility whatsoever that the deceased would survive this attack,” the judge said.

He said farm attacks are prevalent and have far-reaching effects on the agricultural community and society as a whole.

In his plea explanation, Duma said he was staying in kwaMashu and met a person with whom he discussed their “lack of money”.

“We resolved to commit a robbery to obtain money. I mentioned my previous employer as a potential target for us to rob.”

Duma said they recruited others to join them and in all, eight of them drove to Rietvlei to commit the robbery.

Only he and one other person were not armed.

Duma said they arrived in Rietvlei late on the night of May 12 and found the gates to Rowe’s farm, Bloemendal Estate, locked.

They decided to return the next day and spent the night in an abandoned homestead.

On May 13 they went to the farm at about 5.30 pm and hid near the entrance. When Rowe arrived and got out of his vehicle, someone made a noise and alarmed him.

“[Rowe] went back towards his motor vehicle and I thereafter heard several gunshots. At that stage I was with Mbo, who also fired several shots with the R5 rifle.”

He said they fled and on reaching their bakkie — parked about a kilometre away — waited for the others.

“When we discussed what had transpired … Zweli stated that he shot the deceased because the deceased tried to grab him”, he said.

POLICE confirmed yesterday that three other suspects were arrested in the Durban area in connection with Alan Rowe’s murder, and appeared in court in Greytown yesterday. This brings to five the number arrested so far, including Sibonelo Duma.

The latest accused are Mbuso Mabaso (19), Zwelibuyile Mhlongo (24) and Muszwakhe Khumalo (25). They were remanded in custody for seven days pending further investigations.

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