Pretoria - While the mastermind behind one of the country’s most macabre murders - committed in Mooinooi near Brits - will be absent from the dock today, his four co-accused will have to pull out all the stops to avoid spending the rest of their lives behind bars.
The family of murdered couple Anisha and Joey van Niekerk have called for a life sentence for the killers after they were convicted of the double murders.
Mercia Strydom and co-accused Aaron (James) Sithole, his brother Jack Sithole and Alex Modau will today have to try to convince Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, Judge Bert Bam to show them mercy.
Mercia’s husband Koos Strydom never saw his trial through after he committed suicide last year while awaiting trial in jail. He apparently drank poison and left his young wife and henchmen to face the music alone.
While several witnesses have implicated Mercia as one of the people behind the killings of Anisha and Joey, Mercia has denied any wrongdoing.
The tearful woman told Judge Bam she was not at their Mooinooi plot on December 10, 2017, when the couple were killed. She testified that she had visited her mother in Rustenburg that day.
Several State witnesses, however, earlier testified that the motive behind the killings was that Koos wanted the couple’s plot, but he could not pay for it. It is said that he had Mercia draw up a bogus purchase contract, which the women were forced to sign shortly before they were brutally killed.
Witnesses, including the fiancée of Koos’s son Vincent Strydom, Maroecka de Klerk, testified how they had to help Mercia clean up the spot where the bodies were burnt, with pool acid.
Accused James Sithole, who was said to have been instrumental in raping and murdering the women, testified that he was “not near the plot” on the day the couple was murdered.
The court heard how the pair cried while being raped and begged for their lives as they were hung side by side.
Joey’s sister Rina Payne said the three years since the murders had been hell for the family and they now wanted closure.
“It was unbearable to listen to what my sister and Anisha had to go through before and after their deaths. I am just happy that the killers will have to pay,” she said.