By Dianne Hawker

The Cape High Court has dismissed an appeal brought by one of three men found guilty of kidnapping and brutally murdering a homosexual Elsies River hairdresser.

Isaac Jonathan, Johannes Haas, and Terence Gentle were sentenced in July 2002 to 25 years for the murder of Ivan Johannes. They were also given a three-year sentence for kidnapping, to run concurrently with the 25-year sentence. Two other suspects initially charged were acquitted.

Jonathan appealed on the grounds that the sentence was "shockingly inappropriate".

During the trial the court heard that in June 2001 Johannes was taken to a derelict building in Elsies River after meeting the five men at a shebeen. Inside the building, he was kicked, beaten and eventually stoned with large concrete blocks. The court heard he was alive when he was set alight.

In handing down the sentence at the time, Mr Justice Dennis Davis, said there was no doubt that the murder was of a "brutal" nature.

This week a full bench of the high court turned down Jonathan's appeal. In the judgment, Judges Deon Van Zyl, Nathan Erasmus and Daniel Dlodlo said there was "no basis on which this court may interfere with the sentence".

Jonathan's grounds of appeal were that the sentence was "shockingly inappropriate and that (Judge Davis) had accorded too much weight to the nature of the crime, the interests of the victim and his family, and the interests of society."

Jonathan submitted that Judge Davis had attached "insufficient weight" to his personal circumstances - that he was a 39-year-old father of four at the time of the murder. He also submitted that his "moral resolve" had been affected by Mandrax and alcohol.

"The main thrust of the argument, however, was that he had played a lesser role than the other accused in that he had not been involved in throwing heavy rectangular rocks onto the body and head of the deceased," the judgment read.

In dismissing the appeal, the judges said: "There is not the slightest merit in the present appeal. On the contrary (Jonathan) may count himself fortunate that (Judge Davis) found that there were circumstances justifying a lesser sentence than life imprisonment."