Two life terms for farm hits

2015-01-30 00:00

FAMILIES of the farm workers who were killed at the behest of ex-security ­company boss Rudolph “Roelf” Struwig (54) rejoiced over his two life sentences yesterday.

Struwig sat impassively next to his ­legal aid attorney, Pauline Andrews, as Judge Igna Stretch told him that even though he didn’t pull the trigger killing Trevor Ndlovu and Mandla Masango in 2004, in law his conduct was “just as bad, if not worse” than those he hired.

He had shown no remorse for his ­conduct.

The court found that farmers who at that time owned St Ives Stud (Adrian Wingfield) and Rathmor Stud (Bernard McHardy) had decided that troublesome workers on their farms should be “exterminated”.

Struwig provided them with the ­“dangerous weapon” they required in the form of hitman Lucky Mlangeni and other security guards working for him, to carry out the deeds.

Ndlovu was shot multiple times on June 10, 2004, and died weeks later in hospital, and Masango (38) was gunned down on October 5, 2004.

Ndlovu’s son, Dennis, was also wounded in the attack on his father’s car. However, the judge ruled that Struwig had not planned, nor foreseen that happening and acquitted him of attempted murder.

She said yesterday the murders of Ndlovu and Masango were “not only premeditated but carefully planned”.

She agreed with state advocate Sandra Senekal that Struwig had ample opportunity to change his mind. Evidence showed the killers’ first attempt to assassinate Ndlovu was aborted.

“This was an opportunity for you to change … but you told Lucky Mlangeni to go back and make sure the job gets done properly,” said Judge Stretch.

Three months later, he’d had Masango murdered.

She agreed Struwig had the power to negotiate and solve problems between the farmers and workers, but instead he abused that power to arrange the ­murders.

She said his participation went further than that of an accomplice or accessory, as he’d provided firearms, cars and ­cellphones to assist the killers. He had also demanded they report back during and after the murders.

She said while sympathetic to submissions that he’d “lost everything” as a ­result of the trial, the widows and children of the victims too lost everything.

Only in their case they did not do ­anything to deserve it.

She said because Struwig didn’t take the court into his confidence she didn’t know what motivated him. “It could have been greed, or the result of some foolish eagerness to please the people you worked for. Or it could have been simply that you derived some perverse satisfaction out of arranging ­assassinations. I simply do not know but none of these possible motives is ­laudable,” she said.

Judge Stretch refused to grant Struwig leave to appeal against his convictions as well as his two life sentences for the murders.

She ordered that a copy of her judgment be sent to the National Prosecuting Authority to consider the position of “all outstanding suspects” in the matter and to take steps “forthwith”.

At the end of her judgment, Judge Stretch said she wanted the NPA to ­answer why the farmers implicated in the murders were never charged.

The new owner of St Ives Hotel and Restaurant, Ashley Bloxham, has stressed that he and his family have no connection whatsoever with former owner Adrian Wingfield, who was implicated in the murder of Trevor Ndlovu in 2004.

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