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Pretoria - The gruesome killing of a 76-year-old man, who was struck repeatedly with an axe on the head and body by two men who wanted to rob him, has led to the pair being convicted of murder and housebreaking with the intent to rob.
Albert de Jongh was hacked to death on October 24, 2011, at the gate leading to his smallholding in Wallmannsthal, north of Pretoria.
His mutilated body was covered with leaves and soil, but it was discovered by friends who came to visit him a few hours after the killing.
Although the pensioner was bludgeoned 10 times, a blow to the back of his neck, which severed his spinal cord, caused his death.
As he lay face down, with the murder weapon leaning against his body, his two killers and a friend of theirs went on a rampage inside his home.
Zimbabweans Nathan Tsamwisi, 21, and Clayton Maleka, 19, denied that they murdered the old man. They claimed that they acted in self-defence as he wanted to attack them.
They said De Jongh had hired them that day to cut trees on his smallholding. He left them alone for most of the day and when he returned, he was unhappy with their work, they said.
They said he had refused to pay them and had threatened to kill them. Maleka said De Jongh first attacked him, so Tsamwisi chopped once in the direction of the elderly man. Neither of the men could explain how De Jongh received a further nine blows.
De Jongh lived alone on his smallholding and, according to friends of his who testified, he was particularly security conscious. He did not allow any workers to assist him inside or outside his home.
They were also adamant that De Jongh was a naturalist who refused to chop down any of his trees. He in fact liked his smallholding to be overgrown, Judge George Webster was told.
A neighbour testified that shortly before the killing he saw the accused sitting at a nearby compound, sharpening an axe.
Maleka’s blood was later found inside the house.
Maleka admitted that he had injured his finger during the fight with De Jongh, but claimed he had been forced by a friend, who came to fetch them at the smallholding, to ransack the house.
The robbers loaded De Jongh’s bakkie to the brim with their loot, which included the freezer, before they left.
“It is clear it was a brutal attack,” Judge Webster said.
He found the State had proved without a doubt that the accused were the killers and that it was they who had hacked the defenceless man 10 times.
The case was postponed to April 8 next year for presentencing reports.