BROTHERS: A picture of Mlimi Elrico Phike and his older brother, Charles, outside the Northern Cape High Court that was taken recently.
Kimberley - A Prieska man has been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for murdering his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, only hours after his own brother was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Thursday morning.

Mlimi Elrico Phike, 35, was earlier this month found guilty of killing Andre Coby van Staden by stabbing him seven times at a tavern in Prieska on June 25 last year.

Northern Cape High Court Judge Livhuwani Vuma on Thursday exceeded the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years for a murder dolus directus conviction, when she sentenced Phike to 18 years imprisonment.

On the night of the incident, Van Staden and Phike’s ex-girlfriend, with whom he has a child, Patricia Booysen, were at Queen’s Tavern in Prieska with friends.

Phike arrived at the tavern and proceeded to pour his drink over their braai fire and started swearing at Booysen.

Phike was then locked out of the braai area, but at around midnight Van Staden and Booysen left the tavern and Phike proceeded to pour another alcoholic drink on Booysen’s windscreen as Van Staden was reversing her vehicle out of the braai area.

Van Staden then got out of the vehicle and asked Phike what he was doing, whereafter Phike proceeded to grab him and stab him seven times with a knife.

Van Staden was rushed to hospital but died before being admitted.

During yesterday’s sentencing, Vuma said that Van Staden’s death had a “dire” effect on his family, as they lost “a son, brother, father and friend” who contributed financially to his family.

Vuma added that Phike had not shown “a shred of remorse” and had not approached Van Staden’s family to apologise to them after the incident, adding that his only expression of remorse (when he apologised to the family in court while testifying in mitigation of sentence) was more of regret about being found guilty of murder than actual remorse.

She added that she found “nothing” in Phike’s personal circumstances that would warrant a sentence lesser than the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years and added that, considering the extent of provocation during the events preceding the murder, an upward deviation to the prescribed minimum sentence would be justifiable.

Vuma further added that while she was aware of Phike’s defense’s submission with regard to his possible rehabilitation, the factoring in thereof “would not tip the scales toward a lesser sentence” and she then sentenced him to 18 years direct imprisonment for the murder.

Van Staden’s family, as well as community members supporting Booysen, broke down in tears after the sentencing, saying that 18 years “was simply not enough punishment” to justify all the hurt Phike had caused.

“He has made our lives a living hell and we still wish him dead,” they said, adding that they were expecting a sentence of at least 25 years imprisonment.

Meanwhile, Phike’s father, John Phike, who had earlier testified in mitigation of his son’s sentence, confirmed to reporters that Phike’s brother, Charles Phike, was killed in a motor vehicle accident shortly before the sentencing commenced.

John said that he had spoken to Charles earlier in the morning, when Charles had told him that he would “see them in court later” after he left his house in Kimberley at around 7am.

Charles died during a motor vehicle accident about 30 kilometres from Kimberley en route to Prieska, at around 7.30am.

During the accident, Charles’ vehicle, a silver VW Polo, rolled several times and ended up with its engine several metres from the wreck, while Charles’ body was also flung from the vehicle.

He had apparently been travelling to Prieska and no other vehicles were involved.

Police spokesperson, Captain Sergio Kock, yesterday confirmed that a case of culpable homicide had been opened following the incident and requested that anyone with information about the incident contact Detective Warrant Officer George Malgas on 082 448 6447 or 053 582 8000.

John concluded by saying that the double tragedy for his family on one day was “a sign that the end days were near”.

“Everything is God’s will and this is just his word being fulfilled during the last days,” John said.