Life sentences for Henning killersComment on this story
Pretoria - Ambrose Monye and Andre Gouws were sentenced to life in prison by the High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday for the murder of Chanelle Henning.
Judge Johan Kruger said Monye and Gouws were callous, cold-blooded killers who only confessed their guilt to Henning's murder to save their own hides.
Henning was gunned down by two men on a motorcycle shortly after dropping her son off at a creche in Faerie Glen in the east of Pretoria in November 2011.
Former policeman Gerhardus du Plessis and his friend Willem Pieterse later pleaded guilty to the murder and were each sentenced to 18 years imprisonment.
Nico Henning was arrested in December last year shortly after Gouws testified that Henning had offered him R1 million to murder his "troublesome" wife, with whom he was involved in a custody battle.
He is due to appear in the Pretoria Magistrate's Court again on a charge of murder on June 3, but no date has yet been set for his trial.
Monye on Monday followed suit when he admitted that he had acted as middle-man and roped in the hitmen for the murder of a woman he had never met after Gouws offered him R50 000.
Kruger said Henning's murder had been a contract killing, preceded by a conspiracy to murder and had been characterised by cold-blooded disregard for the life of a young woman and mother of a young child.
The services of contract killers had been obtained while the main instigator, Gouws, attempted to remove himself as far as possible from the execution itself by making use of a middle-man, Monye.
He in turn moved in the shadowy underworld of drug dealing and was well-placed in obtaining the services of hit-men.
"We live in a society where violent crime, in various forms, has almost become the order of the day and where peace-loving members of society are pestered by violent criminal deeds of almost unbearable proportions.
"The courts must heed society's outcries that violent crime must be dealt with in ways which will serve as a deterrent and prevention to potential and real criminals."
Kruger said Henning's murder was particularly of a cold-blooded, calculated and devious nature.
"The murder was executed on an unsuspecting young woman and mother of a young child who did neither of the two accused any harm, who was leading her own life and minding her own business, unaware that ill-intended men were planning to kill her.
"Murder is always utterly repugnant but the murder of Chanelle Henning remains an act beyond any reasonable comprehension."
He said he had no doubt in his mind that society demanded that the prescribed minimum sentence -- life imprisonment -- be imposed in a case such as this.
Kruger described Monye's role in the murder as "cold-hearted and callous beyond words".
"To him it was a faceless person to be killed, someone he knew nothing or very little about, but whom he wanted killed for personal gain regardless of the consequences.
"...It displays a total lack of even the most basic respect for the sanctity of human life," he said.
Gouws had first-hand knowledge of his victim and his claims that he had been "manipulated" by Nico Henning were not convincing.
He said the mere fact that Gouws had decided to spill the beans on Henning did not alter the seriousness of the crime or his moral blameworthiness.
"His conduct is inexcusable and speaks of a cruel and skewed mind.
"In this case the element of inter-personal knowledge (of his victim) adds to his moral blameworthiness. The scheme to have Chanelle Henning killed was designed by him," Kruger said.
The judge dismissed argument by both the defence and State that the accused's confessions amounted to substantial and compelling circumstances and justified lesser sentences than life imprisonment.
He said it was clear that the two had been motivated not by remorse, but by self-preservation.
"The envisaged prosecution of Henning and the proposed role to be played by the two accused in that process do not constitute substantial and compelling circumstances," he said.
He found that neither of the accused had shown any remorse for what they did.
"What is glaringly absent from Gouws's statement as well as from his oral evidence is any form or expression of regret or remorse. Not a word has been uttered by him in that regard.
He found that Monye's confession and expression of remorse was an afterthought and not sincere.
Henning's parents expressed satisfaction about the sentences, but said they still had a long road ahead of them with the trial of Nico Henning and that only their faith carried them through.
Gouws's mother Lenie was in tears and tightly hugged him. She did not want to speak to the media. - Sapa