It was their tik addiction that finally spelt their end. Driven to feed their drug habit, the two lovers, dubbed “Thelma and Louise”, took to robbing women with a toy gun.
Using a 9mm BB gun, Nicole Booysens, 25, and Mada Larsen, 24, cruised the suburbs of Bothasig, Table View, Parklands and Parow looking for easy targets.
Between January 5 and 11, the pair robbed five women in separate incidents. With Booysens behind the wheel, they would drive up to their targets.
Larsen, toy gun at the ready, would get out of the car and threaten their victims into handing over their possessions. They stole handbags, cellphones, cosmetics and cash.
But their luck ran out on January 12 when they were arrested.
Police, who were by now hunting for the pair, pounced on them at a B&B in Parow after a tip-off from a member of the public. Packets of tik, dagga and SIM cards from the stolen cellphones were seized.
Their wild ride came to an end in the Blue Downs Regional Court on Monday where they were each sentenced to eight years behind bars. But leading up to the sentencing, their story was laid bare to the court.
It told of two lives irreparably damaged by sexual abuse and later drug addiction.
Booysens and Larsen cut forlorn figures in the dock.
Booysens was the calmer of the two. Larsen wept intermittently as her and Booysens lives of molestation and rape were explained to magistrate Piet Nel.
Booysens lawyer, Keith Gess, told Nel she used tik every day and was under the influence when the offences were committed.
“She was exposed to tragic, traumatic events at a young age and that led to her drug addiction,” Gess said.
At age 11, Booysens was sexually abused by a relative. At 12, her mother had a nervous breakdown because of an armed robbery at a post office where she worked. At 14, she was raped.
“This incident made her feel worthless and she suffered tremendous guilt,” said Gess.
In Grade 6, Booysens was attacked on her way to school by an assailant who cut her face with a knife. In 2005, Booysens was robbed at gunpoint at the Sanlam Centre Mall where she worked. At 18, she was on antidepressants. Just three years ago, she was hijacked.
“In Grade 8, she started smoking dagga and abused alcohol to try and block out and numb her past,” Gess explained.
In March last year, the women started an intimate relationship. The relationship went sour when Larsen lived with her brother who abused tik. Larsen, who defended herself, testified she also had a hard upbringing.
She was molested at primary school and later gang-raped by seven men in high school.
She dropped out of school in Grade 10 and smoked dagga. Larsen then worked at Spar but left her job because she moved to Paarl.
Larsen testified that she was also abused by her ex-fiancé and endured a strained marriage to another man which ended in divorce in February.
She has a two-year-old son who is in her ex-husband’s custody.
She was exposed to tik while living with her brother in Maitland. She then lived with Booysens family and was told to leave because of her addiction.
Larsen then endured a stint on the streets before moving in with Booysens.
On Monday, the pair pleaded guilty to five counts of aggravated robbery, one of attempted robbery with aggravating circumstances and one of possession of drugs.
Nel convicted them and said during sentence that aggravated robbery was a very serious crime.
The fact that they used a toy gun did not lessen the severity of the charges, Nel added. Society often suffered such “frequent and relentless” attacks, he said.
The women faced a prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for each robbery, but Nel found it just to deviate from this.
He said exceptional and compelling circumstances which justified a deviation from the prescribed minimum included:
* The women pleaded guilty to the offences and expressed remorse. Their guilty plea expedited the matter and they accepted responsibility for their actions.
* The women were first-time offenders.
* The victims were not physically harmed during the robberies. “But the psychological and emotional trauma suffered when a toy firearm is used is similar to when a real one is used,” Nel said.
* The women abused drugs.
* The women had been in custody for just over two months.
Nel said time in jail was the only appropriate sentence.
For the aggravated robbery charges, they were sentenced to 15 years in prison, with seven years suspended for five years on condition they did not commit a similar offence during that period.
For the illegal possession of drugs, the women were sentenced to three years in jail. The sentences are to run concurrently.
The women were also declared unfit to own a firearm.
Timeline of crimes
Armed with a toy gun, Nicole Booysens and Mada Larsen robbed five unsuspecting women.
January 5: In Spilbergen Road, Bothasig, the women robbed Angela Green and stole her Blackberry Curve worth R1 500, Nokia C 6 cellphone valued at R2 500, cosmetics worth R250, her purse containing R100 and her ID.
January 6: In Vryburger Avenue, Bothasig, they accosted Maria Friebus and tried to steal her handbag. Friebus resisted and the women fled empty-handed.
January 7: In Zeeland Close, Table View, they robbed Moria Gurajenwa and stole her handbag, with her Nokia cellphone valued at R800 and R30 in cash inside the handbag.
January 9: In Provident Street, Parow, they stole a bag with its contents valued at R1 200 and a Blackberry cellphone worth R2 400 from Candice Williams.
January 10: In the Parklands area the women approached Jane Hansen and stole her bag with items valued at R1 000.
January 11: In the Breakwater parking lot at Table Bay Harbour, Tansen Hoosain’s Blackberry valued at R2 400 and her handbag were stolen.
January 12: The women were apprehended in Bothasig. - Cape Argus