Life sentence for wife killerComment on this story
Pretoria - A Bronkhorstspruit liquor shop manager who killed his frail-looking wife by breaking her neck and repeatedly stabbing her was sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
Judge Elizabeth Kubushi rejected the argument that Albert van Vuuren, 43, had not planned to murder his wife Monica, and acted with diminished responsibility.
A pathologist had testified that Van Vuuren's killer “must have lost it completely”.
Kubushi said a strong message should be sent that the murders of women in South Africa would not be tolerated.
The court also rejected Mr Van Vuuren’s evidence that he had no recollection of the events of the night of July 2010 when his wife died in a pool of blood on their kitchen floor. He claimed a tranquilliser and alcohol had caused his memory loss.
A pathologist testified that Monica van Vuuren had been stabbed 25 times and had a broken neck and jaw.
Her death was caused by a spinal injury and stab wounds to both sides of her chest which penetrated her heart, caused her lungs to collapse and resulted in a painful death.
Albert van Vuuren stabbed her six times after she died. Monica van Vuuren had weighed 43kg at the time of her death.
Kubushi said Van Vuuren was defenceless and vulnerable and brutally murdered in her own home by a man she trusted.
The serving of a divorce summons on Albert van Vuuren must have been one of the triggers for the murder.
The variation in the depth and angle of the stab wounds showed Van Vuuren had moved around to try to avoid the attack.
Kubushi referred to research showing that intimate violence was the leading cause of death in women in South Africa. Spouse killings, especially by men who killed their wives or partners, were prevalent in the court’s jurisdiction.
Women looked to the courts for protection and long-term imprisonment should be imposed to deter other would-be offenders, she said.
Van Vuuren was granted leave to appeal his conviction and sentence.
His bail was extended. - Sapa