Pretoria - Two gardeners who tied up and strangled their elderly female employer in Pretoria North three years ago were on Friday sentenced in the High Court in Pretoria to life imprisonment.

The body of Ida Allen, 60, was found under a trailer in the yard of her Pretoria North home days after a neighbour last saw her alive.

She had been bound and gagged. A plastic dog food bag was pulled over her head and tied around her neck with a rope. She had died of strangulation and suffocation.

Allen was a divorced pensioner who had no children and lived alone. In her younger years she had worked as a secretary for former president PW Botha when he was still defence minister.

Judge Mmonoa Teffo sentenced Kelushi Petrus Hlatswayo, 27, of Groblersdal, and Vincent Tlou Nkgweng, 28, of Tembisa, to life and 20 years imprisonment for murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.

The police traced Allen’s cellphone to the accused, who were also found with Allen’s firearms.

Teffo said it was severely aggravating that Allen was murdered by people she trusted and who worked for her. They knew she lived alone, had no children and had planned her murder.

“The accused qualified to be the children of the deceased. They are the people she could have gone to for help, but instead they abused the trust she placed in them.

“Where would we live if we continue to be attacked by people we trust and who work in our homes?”

Teffo rejected argument by the pair's lawyers that they should get lesser sentences because they were raised by their mothers and grandmothers. Both also had young children to support. She said neither of them had shown remorse and continued to deny their involvement.

The inference could be drawn that they had kept Allen’s firearms to commit other crimes, Teffo added.

Allen’s neighbour Rina Scheidle wiped away tears after the two were sentenced. She expressed relief the case was finally over, but said it had been horrible to hear the murder described again.

Scheidle described Allen as a good neighbour obsessed with security and who lived behind high fences. She had been a champion shot in her younger days and had always warned her neighbours not to enter her property without informing her first. - Sapa