Durban - Two brothers were sentenced to 37 years each in prison, by the Mpumalanga High Court sitting in Breyten yesterday, for kidnapping and murdering British national Susan Deborah Howarth, 64, in 2017.
The brothers, Meshack Nkosinathi Yika, 28, and Themba William Yika, 38, are from Bergendal farm, near Belfast, according to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Mpumalanga.
Howarth, along with her husband Robert Lynn, were attacked by the Yika’s and a third suspect, in a farmhouse in Marchlands, in the Dullstroom area, in Mpumalanga, on February 18, 2017.
Reports indicate that Lucas Makau, the third suspect, died during the trial, which led to the charges against him being dropped.
Regional National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Monica Nyuswa said Howarth was shot dead, while her husband Lynn was also shot and tortured with a blowtorch. Howarth was shot in the head.
The couple were asleep in their beds at the time of the attack.
Nyuswa said they assaulted Lynn until he opened up a safe and gave them R320, two cellphones and a camera.
“They then continued to torture Lynn with a blowtorch, several times on his body. As a result, Lynn gave them his bank card and the pin number, with the hope that they would leave him.
“Instead, they covered his face with a plastic bag and forced both the deceased and the surviving victim into their van and drove away.
“The suspects then threw the victims along the road. The matter was reported to the police and the subsequent investigations led to their arrest,” Nyuswa said.
Leading the State's evidence against the Yika brothers, advocate Eric Sihlangu SC, shared the victim’s account with the court and presiding Judge Lineo Liphoto.
It was revealed that Lynn was stabbed once in the shoulder, taken outside the home and made to kneel down in a veld, and then shot in the neck.
After the ordeal, the Yika brothers and Makau – who was still alive at the time – then used Lynn’s bank card to make several purchases and withdrew money from his account.
After hearing all of the evidence and victim impact statements, Judge Liphoto found the brothers guilty and sentenced them to 15 years imprisonment each for housebreaking and robbery, five years each for discharge of a firearm in a built-up area, 20 years for murder, 12 years each for attempted murder, five years each for theft, and another five years each for kidnapping.
Themba Yika was also sentenced to five years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and five years for possession of ammunition.
“The effective sentence handed down is thirty-seven years’ direct imprisonment each. The court ordered that some of the sentences be run concurrently. Both brothers were further declared unfit to possess firearms,” Nyuswa said.