Bloemfontein – Convicted killers Ambrose Monye and Andre Gouws might refuse to testify in the murder trial of Chanelle Henning’s husband Nico if their life sentences are not reduced, the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein heard on Thursday.
Advocate Johan Van Wyk, for Monye and Gouws, told the five judges that without the evidence of his clients, the State would not have charged Henning with the murder of his wife.
Monye and Gouws want the SCA to reduce their life sentences to 20 years.
"Police went to great lengths in trying to collect evidence. If the sentence is not reduced, they might decide not to testify," Van Wyk said.
He said their sentences were shockingly excessive and disregarded the help the two had given the prosecution.
Henning’s trial on charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder was expected to start in the High Court in Pretoria on October 10.
Justice Lebotsang Bosielo said he could not find fault with their sentences.
Planned and premeditated
“The murder was not only planned, but it was premeditated. There was a firm agreement to eliminate her. That murder qualifies for a life sentence. An innocent woman was shot in broad daylight,” he said.
Sentencing them in the High Court in Pretoria on January 5, 2014, Judge Johan Kruger described the two as callous, cold-blooded killers and sentenced them to life imprisonment, despite their belated confessions of guilt.
Monye and Gouws only confessed to their roles in the young mother's contract killing after they were convicted. Kruger found they only did so to save their own hides. He did not regard this as a compelling reason to impose a lesser sentence.
Prosecutor Gerrie Nel had asked for 20-year prison sentences.
Two men shot and killed Henning from a motorcycle shortly after she had dropped off her child at a crèche at Faerie Glen, in the east of Pretoria, on November 8, 2011.
Former policeman Gerhardus du Plessis and his friend Willem Pieterse pleaded guilty to the murder and were each sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.
Nico Henning handed himself to police in December 2013, shortly after Gouws testified that he had offered him R1m to murder his "troublesome" estranged wife. The Hennings were involved in a custody battle over their child.
Monye admitted he had acted as middleman and recruited the hitmen after Gouws offered him R50 000 to do so.