Farmer, 80, killed for pocket knife, keys, court hears

2015-06-10 12:25
Tankiso Ernest Beleme and Lawrence Thuli Thabatha appear for the murder of 80-year-old Gert Stephanus Swanepoel. (Jana Smit, Netwerk24)

Tankiso Ernest Beleme and Lawrence Thuli Thabatha appear for the murder of 80-year-old Gert Stephanus Swanepoel. (Jana Smit, Netwerk24)

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Kroonstad - The Free State High Court has heard how an 80-year-old farmer was bludgeoned to death with a hammer by two robbers, who made off with only a pocket knife and a set of keys, Netwerk24 reported on Wednesday.

Tankiso Ernest Beleme, 23, and Lawrence Thuli Thabatha, 34, appeared on Tuesday in the high court, sitting in Kroonstad, for the murder of Gert Stephanus Swanepoel in July 2014.

The men are also charged with aggravated robbery, attempted murder (on Swanepoel’s wife), and possession of an unlicensed firearm.

According to the charge sheet, Beleme and Thabatha went to Swanepoel's farm in the area of Vierfontein, outside Klerksdorp, under the guise of looking for work.

Upon gaining entry to the premises, a firearm was pointed at Swanepoel. Beleme then allegedly hit Swanepoel more than once with a hammer against the head.

Plans to rob

A witness, Sabata Joseph Khwetlha, testified on Tuesday that Thabatha had fetched him from his home before the attack with the false promise of a job opportunity on a farm in Jonkerskraal.

On their way, the pair picked up Beleme, and all three men went back to Thabatha’s house.

Thabatha would then tell Khwetlha that they weren’t going to look for work in Jonkerskraal, but were going to Swanepoel’s farm to commit robbery.

"I told him I couldn’t do it, because I would be leaving my children alone," Khwetlha testified.

After an argument, Khwetlha left Thabatha's home. He did not see the two accused again until he heard about the attack on Swanepoel.

Ran for help

Lesego Sedukanelo, 19, an employee at the farm, testified that she and two friends ran for help after Swanepoel was attacked. Thabatha allegedly chased after them.

Vierfontein police Sergeant Chris Badenhorst also testified on Tuesday. He said that he arrested Beleme after farmers in the area had apprehended him after the attack.

Badenhorst said he had locked the accused in his police vehicle for his own safety, as the farmers on the scene were filled with “adrenaline and violence”, and feared they would seek revenge.

Loraine Pistorius, Swanepoel's daughter, said her mother chose not to attend court, because it was too traumatic for her.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  crime  |  farm attacks

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