Life for farmer’s killers

2017-03-17 06:02

“I HEARD Anton’s voice filled with terror, saying ‘Glenda, phone the police, I’ve been stabbed’. That was the last time I heard his voice.”

These are the tragic words of widow Glenda Verwey, written in a victim impact statement describing her late husband Anton’s murder and the effect it has had on their family.

Since Anton Verwey (68) was stabbed to death during a robbery at the couple’s small farm in Ixopo on March 7 last year, his widow has moved to Kenya to live with relatives.

The couple’s two sons, Guy and Logan, both live overseas.

The court heard that before the murder, Glenda Verwey fell ill with cancer and had limited eyesight.

State advocate Dheelan Naidoo said her health, the couple’s age and location on a farm added to their vulnerability.

Two of Verwey’s killers, Skhumbuzo Khanyile (21) and Sphokuhle Malunga (26), were jailed for life for his murder by Judge Piet Bezuidenhout in the Pietermaritzburg high court on Friday.

Each of the men received additional sentences of 14 and 13 years respectively for related charges, including housebreaking and attempted robbery.

The judge said that he regarded it as aggravating that the two men and their accomplice, Thandanani Mweli — who is already serving a 25-year sentence for the murder — had broken into the farmhouse a few days before the murder and stole items worth R44 000.

He said it was greed that drove the trio back to the farm again in the early hours of March 7, 2016. At that time they were armed (with a stick and a knife) as they realised they might encounter opposition. “It shows they had a clear intention to continue raiding the home of the deceased [Verwey] whether the occupants were present or not,” said the judge.

He found that Malunga had passed the knife through a window to Khanyile, who in turn passed it to Mweli who stabbed the elderly farmer while Khanyile held him. He was stabbed twice, once in the heart and once in the stomach.

The court relied on the evidence of Mweli to convict the two men. He pleaded guilty to the crimes soon after his arrest and undertook to help police to bring the other assailants to book.

Judge Bezuidenhout said when he testified in the case Mweli had not tried to minimise his own role and he had shown genuine remorse. He said he could not find that either Khanyile or Malunga were remorseful.

He said from the victim impact statements it was clear that Verwey’s murder had destroyed the family and the elderly couple’s desire to retire peacefully in a farming area.

“Citizens are entitled to be safe and secure in their houses. The robberies and killings are severely affecting our society and the economy and cannot be tolerated,” he said.

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