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Pretoria - “It was a brutal, vicious and savage attack on a frail old woman, done in the night and in her own home. Her attackers showed her no mercy,” a Pretoria High Court judge said on Monday as he sentenced the two killers of 70-year-old Maria Wiing to life in jail and 15 years’ imprisonment each.
Wiing, a German citizen, was killed in May 2010 in her Silver Mist townhouse in Libertas Street, Equestria, by Frans Madiba, 29, and Amos Mokgabudi, 26.
Mokgabudi was a security guard at the complex and knew Wiing well. The court heard that she often took him food and warm drinks to show her appreciation for “safeguarding” the residents.
The kind-hearted woman was tied up in such a manner that she suffocated. A handmade scarf was stuffed into her mouth.
Her body was discovered in her bedroom by her daughter, Patricia Heinze, and her son.
Wiing’s daughter had become worried when her mother did not answer her telephone. She went to her mother’s home, and found everything in shambles. The cupboard doors stood open and goods were strewn around the house.
Heinze noticed her mother lying on the floor of her bedroom, among clothes and other items.
The thugs fled in Wiing’s car, which they had packed with items they stole from the house.
A third accused, Brian Mathebe, was later found in possession of the car as well as a firearm with its serial number removed.
He was sentenced on Monday to 15 years’ imprisonment for being in possession of stolen goods and the illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
While the accused denied any knowledge of the incident, all fingers pointed at them.
Mathebe was found in possession of the car, while several goods were found in the possession of the other two.
Mokgabudi also downloaded on to Wiing’s computer more than 100 pictures of himself and friends taken during New Year celebrations. These pictures were discovered after the computer had been handed back to Heinze.
Judge Bert Bam earlier remarked that Wiing died a painful and cruel death.
On Monday, he said that one had only to look at the pictures of her injuries to see how she had been manhandled. She suffered blunt force trauma and was kicked to such an extent that it seemed she had been tortured.
She was tied up so tightly it was clear her attackers had the intention to kill her, Judge Bam said.
The judge also remarked on the trauma Wiing’s daughter and grandsons had suffered because of her death.
One of her grandsons was at the time undergoing counselling following the murder of his teacher at the German School, Ina Halfter, by her former lover Gerard Sippel. The death of his grandmother meant he suffered a double blow.
“It is disturbing that the murder of people in their own homes is prevalent across the country,” the judge said. People moved into security complexes as they would feel safe having a guard 24 hours a day. But in this case the guard - on whom people relied for their safety - was the one who murdered one of the residents.
Madiba blamed his friend Mokgabudi for involving him in the robbery. He told a social worker he had many friends who were involved in criminal activities, as they watched a lot of films of this nature.
Judge Bam said prospective criminals, including these friends, must take note that the court would deal harshly with criminal activity.