'She had her life; she was old' - young woman who decapitated Cape pensioner

2018-06-19 20:18
Shiree Prince in court. (File, Netwerk24)

Shiree Prince in court. (File, Netwerk24)

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A young woman convicted of decapitating and dismembering an elderly woman, who had tried to help treat her injured foot, showed signs of psychopathy, the Western Cape High Court heard on Tuesday.

Sheree Prince, who was 18 when she burgled the home of Sandra Malcolm, 74, appeared unemotional as clinical psychologist Willie Hanekom testified during sentencing proceedings.

During her assessment sessions, Prince, now 21, reported that she had thoughts of killing someone since a young age, Hanekom testified.

"The risk for violent reoffending should be regarded as high in this case. The accused needs to be incarcerated…. [and] intensive psychotherapy is required."

Hanekom explained that Prince's case was "extremely rare" and no comparable cases in terms of the dismemberment could be found.

"She wanted to get rid of the body but there were 24 deep stab wounds reported, indicating some rage and 'overkill' by dismembering - there are indications that the victim was alive when she decapitated her.

"Apart from the fact that it is rare for a female and especially an 18-year-old to dismember, it is also rare to dismember a stranger."

Prince, who spent most of Hanekom's testimony looking at the floor in the dock, showed no remorse for what she had done, the psychologist said.

The accused had indicated she wanted the murdered woman's house, Hanekom testified.

"She said [Malcolm] had had her life. She was old."

Prince pleaded guilty to murdering Malcolm in her Capri Mews, Lakeside home on April 18, 2015.

In her plea explanation, it emerged that she had travelled to the city from Citrusdal, where she had lived with her mother. They ostensibly had a strained relationship.

She was dropped off in Mitchells Plain and spent the night at a stranger's house. The next day, he took her back to the traffic lights in Rocklands, where he had picked her up.

Prince claimed to have walked to a nearby house and, when no one opened after she knocked, she climbed through a window and stole valuables, such as wallets, cellphones and laptops.

She used the stolen money to pay for transport to Muizenberg, where she met a man who helped her find a place to stay in a bush with other people.

On the day of the murder, she said she had seen a house where the side window was open. She scaled the gate and entered the house, where she saw Malcolm lying in bed.

She switched on the light and Malcolm woke up, threatening to phone the police when she saw the intruder.

Prince told the pensioner that she had been looking for help, showing her foot, which she had burnt with hot food when she kicked a pot over the night before.

"We went into the kitchen where she gave me Savlon mixed with water to wash my foot. She then made me toast and tea," Prince admitted.

"The woman said that she was going to phone for an ambulance. I said no and grabbed a knife. I told her that I would stab her if she phoned the police. She tried to take the knife from me."

She admitted to stabbing Malcolm once in the chest, after which the elderly woman fell to the ground.

READ: Teen arrested for expat’s Cape Town murder

"I wanted to leave but saw her trying to get up. I then killed her by decapitating her with the big knife. I tried to cut her body in order to take it apart."

She used Malcolm's phone to message her father. It read: "Ek's in groot kak, help." (I am in big trouble, help)

"I then cut off bother of her arms and tried to cut off her legs but failed to remove it completely. I then used an axe to chop it off."

She dumped Malcolm's remains in an outside bin. Her arms and legs were put in a plastic container.

Prince fled, but left her handbag which contained goods stolen in Mitchells Plain.

She said she returned to the bush where she had been living and returned to Citrusdal a few days later with the help of relatives.

The stolen items were found at her father's house upon her arrest.

Prince had told Hanekom that she had decided to kill Malcolm because she thought the woman had poisoned her when she had offered her something to eat. She claimed to have feared that the pensioner would phone the police once Prince had fallen asleep.

Malcolm's daughter, Alison Williams, said she was not surprised that her mother had offered assistance to Prince before she was murdered.

"She never hesitated to help," she testified during proceedings.

Her mother was more than a "little old pensioner, a case number"; she was vibrant and full of life, Williams told Judge Bruce Langa.

Her son had found his grandmother's "butchered body", Williams said from the stand, and his "scars will never heal".

She appealed for the highest possible prison sentence for Prince, insisting that, should her mother's murderer ever be up for parole, a family member would be there to "ensure she stays behind bars, where she belongs".

"Our lives will never be the same."

Sentencing proceedings continue on Wednesday.

Read more on:    cape town  |  crime
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