Brits Farmer, Brink Botha, 53, murdered & robbed by two farmworkers, who shot him twice; after having poisoned 8 of their dogs.
Life for HIV-positive farm killers
Thomas Chauke (left) and Zondi Nkuna in High Court Pretoria prior to being sentenced to life for murder of Brink Brits. Photo: Alet Pretorius
Pretoria – Two men who killed a Brits, North West, farmer were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Pretoria High Court yesterday, despite being HIV-positive.
Judge Peter Mabuse said the fact that Thomas Chauke (30), a Mozambican, and Zondi Nkuna (31) of Soshanguve were both HIV-positive was not a compelling reason to deviate from the prescribed life sentence.
The two were last year convicted of murdering Brits farmer Brink Botha and robbing him and his wife Christelle of cellphones, R200 and their bakkie.
Both were also convicted of animal cruelty after poisoning eight of the couple’s Boerboel dogs. One died at the scene and two had to be hospitalised.
Police shot and killed a third suspect.
The two accused were part of a gang who entered the house by smashing a bedroom window. When Botha charged at them they shot him in the chest.
One of the robbers grabbed his wife, who had fled to the study, and demanded money.
She and her daughter were tied up before the robbers left. They found her husband dead in a pool of blood.
Lawyers for the two argued that their HIV-positive status, the fact that both supported young children and relatives, and had already spent two-and-a-half years in jail, should be taken into account as mitigating factors.
Chauke’s advocate Eric Pitso argued his client had expressed remorse.
Patrick Motsitsa, for Nkuna, argued it would be disproportionate to make his client pay for what he did with the remainder of his life, given his HIV status. He said Nkuna had seen other HIV sufferers die in jail due to lack of medical care.
State prosecutor JP Marais argued that Aids was an acquired syndrome and a lifestyle illness, unless where it was acquired through rape or blood transfusion.
Marais said the two had sentenced Botha to death without a trial.
He said the court should not allow him to become another statistic in the horrific number of farm murders committed over the past 17 years.
The Botha family had done everything possible to safeguard themselves, with electric fencing, lights, dogs and burglar proofing, but their home was invaded despite these efforts, he said.
If Chauke had had any real remorse, he would not have protested his innocence so vehemently throughout his trial.
Chauke was sorry for himself, and not for Mrs Botha, who had lost her husband for no apparent reason, Marais added.
Sentencing the two, Judge Mabuse said Botha was unarmed and defenceless when he was shot dead.
He could only imagine the pain and helplessness Mrs Botha and her daughter must have felt on seeing their husband and father dead on the floor.
Speaking to reporters afterwards, Christelle Botha expressed relief her husband’s killers had finally been sentenced, and that it would help her achieve closure.
She said she had forgiven the accused within 24 hours after the murder, because she believed it was the only way to get on with her life.
» » » » [City Press] [Beeld]
Brink Botha, Brits farmer murdered by large gang 3 Nov 2008 – Thomas Chauke and Zondi Nkuna on trial: verdict 20 July 2010
05 July 2010
1 July 2010 reported by Cynthia Dreyer, Madibeng Pulse - PRETORIA HIGH COURT - Accused Thomas Chauke (32) and Zondi Nkuna (29), on trial for the murder on 3 November 2008 of well known Brits farmer and dog breeder Mr Brink Botha (53), will probably know their fate on 20 July when Judge Peter Mabuse pronounces his verdict in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.
This week the prosecutor Mr JP Marais argued for a guilty verdict because the two accused were part of a gang that invaded the deceased’s house and murdered him. The defence argued that the two accused’s guilt could not be proven and that they were wrongly pointed out during an identity parade.
Evidence put before the court showed that Chauke’s fingerprints were found on a cake tin in the house of the murder victim and that a cell phone stolen at the time was found on Nkuna. Chauke argued that he had done painting work for the deceased in the house which accounted for his fingerprints on the cake tin and Nkuna said that he had received the cell phone as payment from a certain Derek for a water pump. Derek, he said, was subsequently shot by police.
The heinous crime on 3 November 2008 at 03:00 happened when a large organised gang smashed the bedroom window where Brink and his wife Christelle (39) were sleeping on their farm. They could see the men outside because of the exterior lighting and Brink stormed forward to prevent the suspects entering the room.
During the ensuing struggle he was cold bloodedly shot twice in the chest while Christelle fled to the study to fetch a gun from the safe. One of the attackers grabbed her and forced her daughter Odelia (13) out of her bedroom, demanding money from the two women all the time in English. They weren’t interested in the weapons in the safe Mrs Brink said and when she showed them there was no money in the safe, proceeded to go through all the drawers in the house searching for cash. Mrs Botha gave them the R200 she had in her bag and they took two cell phones. Before driving off with the Botha’s Corsa bakkie, as well as with the remote control for the gate, the gang tied up the two women in the study. After Mrs Botha and her daughter eventually freed themselves, they smashed the study window open with a chair and Mrs Brink went round the house and climbed back into the bedroom through the window.
There she found her husband dead and went to get help in her car, but not having the gate control, couldn’t get out of the property. She hooted until her workers woke up and raised the alarm at her neighbours. “I was calm all the time and knew the Lord would protect both Odelia and me against the criminals. I prayed all the time, also for them,” she said after the tragedy.
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