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Family despairs over farmer’s murder

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Independent Newspapers

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Pietermaritzburg - The devastating effects a farm murder near Vryheid had on a family were laid bare in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Wednesday.

Everlien Weites was testifying in aggravation of sentence against Mzomuhle Ntshangase, 30, Moses Sigawuge, 34, and Big-Boy Ncube, 29.

They had pleaded guilty to murdering her father, 78-year-old Willem Weites, at the farm in Welkom in the Ngome area in October last year.

They had also pleaded guilty to aggravated robbery, confessing they had stolen R40 000, cellphones, a Nissan bakkie and jewellery.

Weites was with her father in a shed when they were attacked by three men, one of whom was Sigawuge. Willem Weites was shot and his daughter was assaulted and then taken to the main house to open the safe.

Her mother, Gerdina, 76, who was in the house, was also assaulted.

The robbers took what they wanted and fled in the bakkie, which they later abandoned.

Ntshangase was allegedly the mastermind behind the crime and suggested which farm to rob. He did not go along on the attack.

Ncube drove the attackers to the farm.

Three other men were arrested for the crimes. One died and two were awaiting trial as they intended pleading not guilty.

Weites told the court she often had flashbacks of the incident.

Her father, who had lived on the farm for 20 years, had been a dairy farmer and also planted mealies. In addition, he had a shop and a petrol pump on the farm.

Weites said she also had cattle, and she helped her father on the farm.

She said the murder had affected her, her mother and siblings badly. Her mother cried often and could not bear to live on the farm any more. She had moved to an old-age home in Vryheid.

“My brother and sister also miss my dad. They feel guilty they were not there.”

Weites said she and her sister still lived on the farm, which they were selling. The cattle and farming implements had already been sold.

“My mother still misses the farm; she misses her chickens, garden and things… my position is bleak. I always dreamt of farming; I do not know what I am going to do now.”

Captain Adolf Engelbrecht testified about how common farm attacks were in northern KwaZulu-Natal. He said that in the Vryheid area, there had been five attacks in less than two years.

Engelbrecht added that this case had drawn a lot of interest in the area.

State advocate Attie Truter asked that life sentences be imposed on the three men, while their attorney, Pauline Andrews, submitted there were reasons why a lesser sentence should be given.

These included that they had pleaded guilty and not wasted the court’s time and that none of them had done the shooting.

She also said they intended to testify for the State against the other accused.

Sentencing is to take place on Friday.

The Mercury


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