Pietermaritzburg - Life sentences imposed on the killers of KZN couple David Strauss (77) and his wife, Ann (73) provided cold comfort for their grieving family.At the high court on Wednesday emotional family members said even though the killers got the maximum sentences, nothing can bring back the much-loved couple or heal the family’s grief.Adding to their suffering was the bitter-sweet memory that David Strauss would have celebrated his birthday on Wednesday.One daughter, Melinda Emslie, described in her victim impact statement how on entering her late parents’ home “once filled with love and laughter” a day after their January 18 murder, she was met with “signs of agonising pain, terror and inconsolable darkness”.“I have haunting pictures burned into my head of their no longer happy but bruised and bloody faces. The thought of my ageing parents having to endure such pain and savagery is ripping me apart daily.”Another daughter, Jenny Harrison, also said she cannot clear her mind of the horror she walked into that day. “The amount of blood! The trail of blood started at the front door. You could not walk through the dining room area without walking through the blood. The sprays and smears on the walls and furniture. The clear bloody handprints on the wall. I close my eyes and I can still see it, smell it. I pray that time will fade this image in my mind so I can once again put my head down to sleep in peace and not fear the images I know are going to start flooding through my mind.”Harrison added that people have told her that she needs to forgive her parents’ killers to heal herself. “I do not think I will ever be able to forgive them for what they have done. Right now I do not believe I will ever find real peace within myself again. My anger towards them is just too great,” she said.Both women described their parents as loving, gentle people who would never hurt anyone. The pensioner couple, who had close ties to Pietermaritzburg, were stabbed to death at their home in Kwambonambi, Zululand, in a manner described by Judge Yvonne Mbatha as “barbaric and painful”.She found no circumstances persuading her to impose less than the prescribed minimum sentences on the two self-confessed killers — Ntokozo Mbuyazi (21) and Mpilo Ngema (20). She sentenced them each to two life sentences for the murders, to 15 years’ imprisonment for robbery with aggravating circumstances, 15 years’ imprisonment for unlawful possession of a semi-automatic firearm and three years’ imprisonment for illegal possession of 22 rounds of ammunition.Judge Mbatha took into account that the couple were brutally killed in the sanctity of their home, “by two young men”. “This killing was unnecessary taking into account their [the victims’] age and frailty and the fact that they were unarmed.”The motive was robbery as the men stole the couple’s car and loaded it with valuable goods totalling around R168 000.The judge said this also revealed they were not affected by killing the victims as they “spent time picking out” the items and loading them.Post mortems found David Strauss died of multiple stab wounds to his chest and body and Ann Strauss of “massive blood loss due to stab wounds in the chest and body”.A report by a probation officer revealed the two had initially planned the robbery with friends who later withdrew, while they persisted with the plan. After arriving in the early hours they lay in wait for several hours until David Strauss opened the door at 6 am, and then attacked.The judge said their motive was greed.In their pleas the two men said they got information from the Strauss’s gardener about a safe with “lots of money”. They told how they lay in wait overnight for the couple to open the house and then struck, stabbing David Strauss as he tried to flee into the house and slam the burglar gate shut. They then stabbed his wife.Police caught them the same day driving around in the stolen vehicle. Ngema escaped, but was arrested on January 27 after handing himself over to police on his mother’s advice.