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Pretoria - One of the killers of a 57-year-old Willow Glen stroke victim, who was murdered in cold blood by a group of hijackers as he could not get out of his car fast enough, looked shocked as he was sentenced to an effective 23 years’ imprisonment, while his mother burst into tears.
Goodwill Thapelo Mafatshe, 33, sat with a bowed head as Pretoria High Court Judge Mmonoa Teffo passed sentence. He sank lower into the dock as the judge said the killing of Henry Vorster was a senseless, cold and cruel murder.
Mafatshe listened in apparent disbelief as the judge sentenced him to a total of 45 years for murder, attempted murder, robbery and illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition. He still seemed in shock when he heard he had to serve an effective 23 years.
At the time of the incident he worked in the marketing division of his family’s courier business.
Vorster lost his life so that the thugs could take his car and his wife’s handbag.
His widow, Magrieta Vorster, was shot in the arm and leg.
She was so traumatised by the events that she managed to face her husband’s killer only for the duration of delivering her testimony and did not attend the proceedings again.
The Vorster couple were attacked on November 25, 2009, as they returned from a family braai.
The widow was driving, as her husband was paralysed on one side of his body because of a stroke.
Vorster testified that as she was about to open the gate to their townhouse complex, a gun was shoved in her face.
A group of three robbers ordered the couple to get out of the car. She told her husband to get out and let them have the car, but he was slow to move because of his condition.
As the couple were about to get out, one of the robbers broke the window and fired shots at them.
The man was hit in the neck and as he fell to the ground, he was shot in the chest.
The judge remarked that she had no idea why the robbers shot the couple, as there was no reason to do so. The Vorsters did not resist at all and were in the process of getting out of the car when they were shot.
The wounded woman, who tried to reach for her bag to phone for help, was also assaulted by one of the robbers, who grabbed her handbag before the three sped away in the couple’s car.
About 34 hours later Mafatshe was found by the police and members of Tracker, sitting behind the steering wheel of the car.
When he saw them approaching, he jumped out and tried to run away. The police shot him in the leg before arresting him.
The judge said communities had had enough of crime and it was time that criminals felt the full brunt of the law.
“South Africa is a free society. Where should we live if we are threatened like this? We cannot always fear for our lives. Violent crimes like this can no longer be tolerated… We live in a violent society and people are tired of living under these conditions.”
She commented that the couple returned to the safety of their home, only to be attacked outside their gate.
The judge said the widow would have to endure the trauma Mafatshe had put her through for the rest of her life.
“No one has the right to take a life. It is a precious gift from God,” the judge said.