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Pretoria - Was barbaric bloodlust the motive for the senseless killing of Jan Engelbrecht in his Booysens home, in front of his wife and children?
This was the question posed by Pretoria High Court Judge Bert Bam yesterday, as he sentenced the killers of the vice-president of Mac’s Motorbike Club to life imprisonment each.
Pleasure Mokoena, 27 was sentenced to an additional 34 years’ imprisonment and Lerato Mancidi to an additional 23 years. They were this week convicted of murder, robbery and attempted murder.
Judge Bam, in questioning the motive for the killing, said one would probably never know why the 45-year-old had to lose his life at the hands of merciless criminals.
“You are both cold-blooded killers and dangerous people who have to be removed from society forever,” he told the two murderers. The pair did not show any emotion to this and only looked ahead of them, while heavily armed correctional services guards guarded them in the dock.
Mokoena, the court heard, was so brazen that after he fled from the scene with the loot, he immediately wore a gold chain he robbed at the Engelbrechts’ home.
They were part of a gang who in the early hours of September 8, 2008, broke into the home of the family. All hell broke loose as Engelbrecht’s wife Merinda and his two sons, Evan and Marcelle, were taken outside by some of the gang members. One of them fired a shot at close range at Evan, but missed.
The 14-year-old Megan was woken up by a robber, who pointed a gun in her face. This robber ran out of her bedroom when he heard shots outside, and she ran to her father’s bedroom. There she found another robber pointing a firearm at her father.
The father and daughter managed to escape from the bedroom and also ran outside, where the rest of the family and the robbers were. Engelbrecht saw a man aiming in his direction with his firearm and seconds before the shot went off, managed to push his daughter out of the way. “The robbery was planned and executed with precision. [Engelbrecht] was shot dead after he, in an act of heroism, pushed his daughter out of the way, seconds before he was shot. It seemed as if he anticipated that Mokoena would shoot. He, with his last deed on Earth, saved the life of his daughter,” the judge said.
Engelbrecht died minutes later in front of his wife and children.
Megan was so traumatised by what happened, that she on several occasions ended up in hospital. She also had to spend two weeks in a psychiatric hospital.
The court was yesterday told that she, for two years after the incident, could not write her final exams as she on those occasions landed in hospital. She is now busy with her matric exams and had to, in between, come to court to testify.
This is the second time that she and her mother had to relive their nightmare ordeal, as they last year had to testify in the trial of another gang member.
Neither of these two accused had been arrested at the time.
Merinda Engelbrecht, who yesterday testified in aggravation of sentence, said she too, had to be hospitalised on several occasions and she was also still on medication. To make matters worse, they walked into an armed robbery at a hardware store, five months after their harrowing ordeal.
Engelbrecht said they immediately moved from their house after her husband was killed. She bought a flat in a secure complex, where she spent more than R50 000 to further safeguard it.
She told Judge Bam that the killing of her husband, to whom she had been married for 5 years, had a devastating effect on the family. Evan would not leave his mother’s side and for months slept on a mattress next to her bed. He also at all times travelled with her and Megan to ensure that they were safe.
Marcelle, she said, had guilt feelings as he was a champion kick boxer at the time and he could not save his father’s life.
“Nobody is safe in their homes these days. The public is at the mercy of criminals and people are living in fear, as these types of attacks can happen anytime and to anybody,” the judge said.
Pretoria News Weekend