File picture: Timothy A. Clary


Durban - The conduct of four men, sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of a Winterton farmer, whom they had also burnt with an electric iron along with his wife, was described on Thursday as cold, callous and cruel.

Pietermaritzburg High Court Acting Judge Anand Maharaj said the men exhibited sadistic tendencies when they inflicted pain on Mohamed Engar, 67, and his wife, Razia, 58, on December 5, 2013, at Noodhulp farm where Engar ran a milling business.

“Burning them with an iron was nothing short of barbarism and torture.”

He said Engar was an elderly person. He had been tied and subdued with his hands behind his back and posed no threat to the men who had been armed with firearms and a knife.

His post-mortem results indicated a severe beating. “The deceased would have endured a substantial amount of pain from the injuries. One can safely say he was tortured.”

Sifiso Mabuza, 32, Lindelani Mtshali, 25, Sabelo Ndlovu, 32, and Mduduzi Nene, 37, were sentenced to an additional 15 years on two counts of robbery and five years for attempting to murder farm employee Lebaka Fortunate Tsotetsi.

Mabuza and Ndlovu were given another 15 years for the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition. The acting judge said that while travelling daily from Durban to Pietermaritzburg to hear the case, he noticed a number of posters highlighting farm attacks and murders. It painted a bleak picture of the murders in Pietermaritzburg and surrounding areas and the thought that crossed his mind was: “Is this the murder capital of KwaZulu-Natal?”

He said violent crime such as rape and murder had become a concern to every law-abiding citizen. It threatened the safety of the country.

Judge Maharaj said that Engar had been known as umkhulu in Zulu, which meant grandfather.

It appeared to the court that he had earned the respect of his workers and had been held in high esteem.

Of the gang, he said the crimes had been committed out of greed and not need, as they had all been employed and had no reason to engage in such behaviour.

He said the men had planned the crime well and executed it with military precision. Judge Maharaj could not find reason to give them lesser sentences.

Razia and her daughter Fathima were present during the sentencing. Reluctant to comment at first, Fathima later said nothing would bring back her father. She said that from her understanding, the life sentence meant being eligible for parole after 25 years.

“I would have preferred it if they had spent their whole life in jail. They have affected so many lives and caused unnecessary pain.

“They don’t deserve to ever get out,” she added.

The Mercury