LOOK: Murder stories that shook Mzansi this decade

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Dec 21, 2019

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Cape Town - As we close in on the end of a decade, we take a look back at some of the most shocking and gripping crime and court stories from the past 10 years.

Who can forget the Anni Dewani murder which made international headlines in 2010? The new bride had come to Cape Town with her UK husband, Shrien Dewani, for their honeymoon. She was shot dead in a hijacking allegedly staged by her husband on November 13, 2010. Post-mortem reports showed she had been shot through her hand and the bullet went into her neck.

The couple’s cab driver, Zola Tongo, told the court he had been offered money by Dewani to help stage her death. While driving in Gugulethu, Tongo said they were “hijacked” and Anni shot in Litha Park, Khayelitsha. In his plea agreement, he said he was not there for the shooting, but pleaded guilty to kidnapping, robbery, murder and obstruction of justice.

The court heard that R15000 was offered by Dewani to have his wife murdered. Tongo said he was offered R5000 of the R15000 for his involvement. Mziwamadoda Qwabe, a co-accused, pleaded guilty to robbery, kidnapping, murder and firearm charges. He is spending 25 years behind bars.

Meanwhile, gunman Xolile Mngeni was convicted of Anni’s murder on November 19, 2012, received a life sentence and has since died in jail from a brain tumour.

The trial came to an end in 2014 when the Western Cape High Court found that the evidence against Dewani was not sufficient. Dewani was never convicted and returned to the UK.

SHRIEN Dewani and his wife Anni. She was murdered while they were on honeymoon in SA.

Who can ever forget Valentine’s Day in 2013? On that day, Paralympic star Oscar Pistorius shot his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp several times through a toilet door at his home in Pretoria.

He claimed he did not check if she was in the bed next to him and had thought it was an intruder. In 2015 he was found not guilty of murder, but guilty of culpable homicide.

He received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide and a concurrent three-year suspended prison sentence for a separate reckless endangerment conviction.

He was released on house arrest in 2015 while the case was before the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), which overturned the culpable homicide verdict and convicted him of murder.

In July 2015, Judge Thokozile Masipa extended Pistorius’s sentence to six years. On appeal by the State for a longer prison sentence, the SCA more than doubled Pistorius’s prison term to 13 years and five months.

The Van Breda murders sent chills down most South Africans’ spines. A prominent Stellenbosch family were killed with an axe by their son and brother Henri van Breda on January26, 2015. The only surviving member of the attack was Henri’s sister Marli, who underwent major surgery. She is said to have retrograde amnesia and has no recollection of the attack.

Henri van Breda killed his parents and brother.

After a year and a half of investigations by police and evidence piling up, van Breda handed himself over to police in 2016 and was released on bail the following day. In September 2016, he was arrested along with his girlfriend, Danielle Janse van Rensburg, for possession of cannabis.

The trial which began in April 2017 at the Western Cape High Court, saw chilling evidence brought before the court against him.

He claimed that an intruder, dressed in dark clothes with gloves and a balaclava, had entered their home and killed his family. During an alleged altercation with the attacker, he claimed he had sustained some injuries.

Judge Siraj Desai heard from experts that the injuries inflicted did not seem to be from an attacker and the crime scene had been tampered with.

It was found that Van Breda had attempted to call his girlfriend, who did not pick up, before calling emergency services. In the call to EMS, the court heard he was calm.

The EMS operator testified that Van Breda had called for an ambulance. She told the court she heard what sounded like a giggle from him while on the phone.

On May 21, 2018, Van Breda was found guilty of murder, attempted murder and obstruction of justice. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for each of the three murders; 15 years for attempted murder; and 12 for obstruction. The sentences were to run concurrently.

In November 2018, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed his application for leave to appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Jason Rohde was found guilty of strangling his wife and mother to his three daughters, Susan Rohde, at the Spier Hotel in Stellenbosch. He attempted to cover up the 2016 murder by hanging her behind the bathroom door in their hotel room. However, the post-mortem revealed that Susan was smothered and strangled with force exerted on her chest, which resulted in her ribs breaking.

Jason Rohde murdered his wife Susan.

Judge Gayaat Salie-Hlophe heard that Rohde had confessed that their marriage had taken strain after Susan had found out about an affair he had been having with a co-worker.

Rohde was convicted on November8 last year for murder and defeating the course of justice. He was sentenced on February 27 to 20 years.

However, on December 18, Rohde was granted R200000 bail while he waits to appeal his conviction. Rohde was also ordered to pay R1million to the Western Cape High Court as part of his bail conditions.

An SCA ruling by Judge President Mandisa Maya and Judges Christian van der Merwe and Caroline Nicolis set aside the earlier High Court decision that Rohde await his appeal behind bars.

In February 2018, another wife- killer struck in Cape Town. Rob Packham murdered his wife Gill and left her burnt-out vehicle at Diep River Train Station, her body in the boot.

Rob Packham murdered his wife Gill.

State prosecutor Susan Galloway mentioned in closing arguments a phrase allegedly used by Packham in a conversation with his mistress: “I love my life, but not my wife”.

He asked a colleague to provide him with an alibi for the morning of his wife’s murder. However, he claimed this was because he intended on getting Gill a new vehicle for her birthday.

His work phone was noted as being in forwarding mode at several points in the day, making him unreachable. He later allegedly gave the police an incorrect PIN code for the same phone.

He was sentenced to 20 years for the murder to run concurrently with a four-year term for obstructing the administration of justice.

In April 20, 2017, Pieter Doorewaard and Phillip Schutte allegedly caught 16-year-old Matlhomola Moshoeu stealing sunflowers on a farm. They claimed he jumped off the back of their bakkie and broke his neck on the way to the police station, but an eye witness said he was pushed.

Doorewaard and Schutte were convicted for the murder.

The pair were also found guilty of other crimes, including kidnapping, intimidation, theft and pointing a firearm.

Moshoeu’s murder sparked racial tensions in the farming town of Coligny, with residents setting businesses owned by white people alight.

The court found the two men intentionally pushed him off the vehicle and that they foresaw the results of their actions, but continued.

Hannah Cornelius was brutally gang-raped and murdered in 2017 in another case that sent shock waves through Stellenbosch. She was stabbed in the neck and a heavy rock dropped on her head.

She was last seen alive with her friend Cheslin Marsh in her car when four men approached them in Bird Street.

Marsh was stoned and left for dead. However, he survived while Cornelius was raped and later stabbed at Groenhof farm.

Three of the men involved in the kidnapping, rape and murder of Cornelius received life sentences.

Vernon Witbooi, Geraldo Parsons and Eben van Niekerk were sentenced less than a week after they were convicted in the Western Cape High Court on 10 charges, including kidnapping, rape and murder.

Their co-accused, Nashville Julius, was found guilty of robbery and kidnapping, as he had fled before his accomplices drove off with the students that night.

Crimes against children shocked the nation. These children were murdered by someone who had been known to their families.

In the Western Cape, Courtney Peters, a 3-year-old girl, was fed ant poison and later strangled to death by family friend Mortimer Saunders, who had been renting a room from her parents.

Her body was found in a shallow grave on May 13, 2017. Saunders was found guilty of premeditated murder and handed two life sentences.

Stacey Adams, 6, was raped and strangled by her neighbour, Christopher Brown, in Mitchells Plain in 2018.

Her naked body was discovered buried in a shallow grave next to Brown’s wendy house in De Larey Road, Eastridge, on June 24 last year.

Brown pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four life terms for the girl’s rape and murder and for the murder of Thulisa Lavisa, the mother of his 4-year-old son.

The State reopened his wife’s cold case of 2015, where Brown assaulted Lavisa by punching her in August of that year.

A month later, he strangled Lavisa to death and then hid her body under his bed. Her body was discovered by her family the following day, September 21.

Strand’s Minentle Lekhatha was 5 years old when she was raped and murdered by Xolani Lantu in 2017.

MINENTLE Lekhatha was raped and murdered.

He was sentenced to five years in jail for kidnapping, and also received a life sentence each for two counts of rape and a count of murder.

Minentle was last seen playing outside her home before disappearing on June 3, 2017. The girl’s body was later found dumped under a bridge near the N2 highway. She had known her killer; it was said he was angry at her grandmother for ending their relationship and telling him to stay away.

In June 2016, the body of baby Daniel was found lifeless in his bed in Johannesburg. In this case, baby Daniel had been subjected to abuse by his mother and stepfather.

The court heard evidence of how Daniel was constantly beaten and burned with boiling water, and how he had suffered multiple bone fractures all over his body.

Daniel suffered a broken elbow, broken femur, injured ribs and second degree burns to 60% of his body.

His mother was found to not be the person who struck the death blows, but the court deemed her guilty because of her negligence.

The parents’ identities were not revealed to protect Baby Daniel’s three siblings.

Weekend Argus

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