Farmer’s killers get life terms

2009-04-26 00:00

Two casual workers who murdered Cramond farmer Ezrah Podolski, and assaulted and robbed Podolski’s wife, Miriam, and the couple’s domestic worker, Gloria Ngidi, on September 5, 2006, were each jailed for life plus 20 years by high court Judge Gregory Kruger.

Judge Kruger, who sat with two assessors, said he could not find any substantial or compelling circumstances that would justify the court imposing less than the prescribed minimum sentences on Nkosingpile Khumalo (21) of Matimotolo and Zikhulile Sembela (29) of Cramond.

Kruger commented during the sentencing that the minimum sentences were promulgated with the aim of helping to reduce crimes of this nature. This clearly has not happened since the jails are “overflowing”, he said.

For robbery with aggravating circumstances the minimum sentence is 15 years’ imprisonment and for premeditated murder it is life imprisonment.

Kruger said it was clear from the evidence he heard that this incident was a “well-planned and premeditated attack on the Podolski household”.

He said he did not agree with defence submissions that the accused had prospects of rehabilitation.

“You have both had two-and-a-half years in prison [awaiting trial] and had more than sufficient time to reflect on what you had done. Both of you have not shown an ounce of remorse,” he told them.

Judge Kruger said the main aggravating feature of the crimes was the fact that Podolski offered the killers employment on the day in question. The evidence was that Mr Podolski had not been feeling well and was not prepared to work that day.

Yet according to Khumalo’s own evidence, because he [Khumalo] told the farmer that he was hungry and needed food, he offered them work.

Instead of accepting the opportunity to earn money in an honest manner to buy food, the accused robbed the elderly couple and killed Podolski.

The judge said Miriam Podolski described her husband as a compassionate person who always sought to help those who needed employment.

“As pointed out, if it was the intention to rob only, there was absolutely no need to kill her husband.”

The judge said a “brutal” assault was perpetrated on Miriam Podolski who was also a senior citizen. Ngidi was a “frail woman of small build” and both were tied up.

Evidence revealed that Podolski was hit over the head with a spade and then tied to a tree, while the assailants returned to the farmhouse and assaulted the women.

The spoils of the robbery were an LG video recorder and between R800 and R1 000 cash.

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