16.11.2012 Adreen Bye, at the Pretoria Court where her husband David Bye's killers were sentenced on Friday. Picture: Etienne Creux

Pretoria - “You are dangerous criminals with no regard for human life. You must permanently be removed from society,” a Pretoria High Court judge told two cold-blooded killers, before sentencing each to life imprisonment as well as a further 19 years.

Simon Mabena, 29, and Lesiba Mabisela, 28, both of Hammanskraal, were earlier convicted of shooting Clubview businessman Dave Bye several times in the driveway of his home. The 57-year-old father of two died on the scene, in the arms of his son.

Bye, who owned two butcheries in Ga-Rankuwa, was on his way to work on April 12, 2010, when he was confronted by the two accused.

He was about to get into his car, when the two gun-wielding men arrived and tried to rob him. Bye tried to defend himself, but several shots went off, hitting him in the chest and on his side.

A neighbour heard the commotion and sounded the alarm. The two accused ran away without taking anything. Although all forensic evidence pointed to them, they persisted to the end that they were not involved in the incident.

Judge Bert Bam said this was clearly a well-planned operation and that they had no remorse at all.

“You intended to rob someone [that morning] and you programmed yourselves to kill.

“Why [Bye] was killed, remained a mystery, as you are not prepared to tell the court the truth.”

The judge added that the accused did not hesitate to kill and they showed the deceased no mercy. “You ended his life without regret,” he said.

He pointed out that Bye’s wife, Adreen, his two children and his grandchild were severely traumatised by what happened and they had to receive psychological therapy. The court heard that Bye was well loved and respected by the community in Ga-Rankuwa where his butcheries were. His businesses had to close down after his death, leaving a number of people without work.

The judge said it was a sad state of affairs in the country that people were often killed at random. “Many criminals have no respect for life… Nobody is safe anymore, not even in their own homes.”

He added that the community looked up to the courts to protect them by handing down severe sentences.

Mabena, who is HIV-positive, told the court that this should be taken into account as a mitigating factor, warranting a lesser sentence. It was said on behalf of Mabisela that the fact that he was in his 20s showed that he was not yet mature. The judge rejected these pleas for mercy and found both accused deserved to spend their lives behind bars.

Bye’s widow had tears in her eyes when, after the sentencing, she said she was glad it was all over. “I am satisfied that justice prevailed. My husband was a much-loved, soft-hearted and good person who always worried about those who did not have food.”

She saw her husband for the last time that morning when she left for work. “I just arrived at the office when I got a phone call that my husband had been shot. He was already dead by the time I got home.” The couple had been married for 30 years.

Pretoria News Weekend