The Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein has increased the sentence handed down to a father who killed his four children in order to spite his wife for having an extra-marital affair and for rejecting him.
The SCA dismissed Lesiba Kekana's leave to appeal his 52-year sentence, increasing it to life in prison.
In a judgment by Judge Tati Makgoka, which was delivered last week, the SCA said it was difficult to imagine a more "callous and despicable deed" than a parent killing his own children.
"One after the other, the appellant [Kekana] slaughtered each of his children like animals," Makgoka wrote.
"Meanwhile, their mother, who was some 280km away in Pretoria, was, on the appellant's own admission, forced to listen helplessly to the killing of one of her children, after the horrific killing of his sibling," he said.
READ: Father murdered his 4 kids to get back at wife - prosecutor
Kekana was convicted after he pleaded guilty at the beginning of his trial, admitting that he had killed his four children - Bokang, 13, Keneilwe, 10, Hlologelo, 6, and Lekgoledi, 4 - in Moletlane in September, 2015, by slitting their throats with a knife.
He was sentenced to 52 years in prison by Limpopo Judge Joseph Raulinga in April 2016.
'Saving them from enduring suffering'
Handing down sentence in the Limpopo High Court in Polokwane at the time, Raulinga said the victims had been slaughtered like sheep, adding that it had also deeply impacted the community.
Kekana had previously testified that he was "saving them from enduring suffering", as he was planning to commit suicide.
The children were killed after Kekane had an argument with his wife Lorraine over the phone. She was made to listen to her children being murdered.
During arguments in the SCA, Kekana's legal representatives argued that he had lost his children and had, therefore, suffered loss.
But Judge Makgoka said this was an "exasperating submission" as he was projecting himself as a victim of some sort, which reflected his "self-absorption".
Makgoka also disagreed that Kekana's actions happened on the spur of the moment, and that they were not premeditated.
He said - in the interests of society and given the increasing rate of violent crimes, such as murder of the vulnerable in our society, including children - the sentence should reflect the community's indignation over Kekana's ghastly deeds.
"It must communicate an unequivocal message that this court will impose the heaviest possible sentence against those convicted of heinous crimes, especially against innocent children."
'Pawns to be sacrificed'
In his ruling, Makgoka wrote: "One can only imagine the horror of all the children when their supposedly loving father, protector and provider, summarily extinguished their lives in the most cruel manner.
"The brutality and venom which went into the slaughter of the children is gruesomely depicted in the photo album showing their blood-soaked bodies."
Makgoka said the post-mortem examination reports revealed horrific details, including the nature and extent of injuries inflicted on the children.
He said the fact that these were Kekana's own children was "extremely aggravating".
"The children reposed trust in him as their protector and provider. A further aggravating factor is that the appellant caused his wife to listen over the phone to the slaughter of one of her children.
"This leads to an ineluctable conclusion that the appellant killed the children in order to spite his wife for having an extra-marital affair and for rejecting him. He used his children as pawns to be sacrificed in his battle with his wife," he added.
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