Family members of the man sentenced to four life terms for killing his nieces and nephews feel the children can’t rest in peace without their ears.Ben Mbele (32) pleaded guilty in the Pietermaritzburg high court last week to killing Lwandle, Bandile, Sphindile and Lwandile Mbele in September in the Port Edward area.He told the court a man he knew convinced him to kill the children — aged between four to 11 years old — and cut off their ears to take to a traditional healer for a “reward”.Acting Judge Elizabeth Law said on Tuesday during sentencing that Mbele has not divulged if his plans to sell the ears came to fruition or if he received financial reward.The children’s aunt, Phakamile Mbele, said the family would like the ears back so that they could bury them with the children. She added she was pleased with the sentence and had forgiven her brother.Judge Law said it was clear the murders were premeditated. Two weeks went by after Mbele agreed to the man’s plan and he did not change his mind in that time. The other man was arrested but later released due to the lack of evidence.Mbele said the man knew when his sister left the children alone at home and decided to execute the plan on September 1. That night both men went to the children’s house. They tied them up, stabbed them and then cut their ears off.The judge said Mbele went with his sister to the mortuary two days afterwards to identify the bodies. His conscience did not get in the way. Within a week, he went to the investigating officer to complete funeral policy forms. He had taken out funeral cover on each child and had collected a total of R60 000 — money his family knew nothing about.The judge said Mbele and his accomplice took the lives of vulnerable children and the fact they were Mbele’s blood relatives makes it worse.“He occupied a relationship of trust … he callously participated in the killing for financial gain. It is difficult to imagine the sheer terror they must have experienced in the last few minutes of their young lives,” she said.Two victim impact statements handed to the court revealed the devastating impact of the crimes on the family and the community, she said.In a statement issued yesterday, the provincial acting provincial commissioner, Major-General Bheki Langa, welcomed the sentence.“This sentence will also serve as a warning to other criminals who think they will get away after committing crimes ...” he said.