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Farm security manager sentenced to life for killing 18-year-old jobseeker

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A 52-year-old security manager was sentenced to life behind bars for killing an 18-year-old near Uniform Farm, Tendabosch in the district of Komatipoort, in 2018.

Sarel Petrus Du Plessis was convicted and sentenced to life and an additional 38 years imprisonment for murder, three counts of attempted murder, possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition by the Mpumalanga High Court on Tuesday.

On 5 December 2018, Bhekimuzi Anele Ziko, his elder brother and their two friends were walking around Daisa farm in Komatipoort looking for temporary jobs as it was litchi harvest time.

“They continued going in and around with the hope of securing jobs. The accused concluded that they were trespassing and intending to steal litchis from the farm. He then drove towards their direction, stopped the vehicle, and took out his firearm. He started shooting at the victims, one died and three ran away,” said National Prosecuting Authority regional spokesperson Monica Nyuswa.

Du Plessis denied the allegations while the court heard evidence from the surviving victims on how the events unfolded on the day.

“Victim impact statements compiled by the deceased’s mother facilitated by Court Preparation Officer Nomfundo Mokoena wherein she detailed the pain and trauma caused by the accused in her life were presented. She said the incident left her emotionally and physically traumatised. She was even diagnosed with a chronic illness,” said Nyuswa.

In aggravation of the sentence, the state argued that the accused abused his power as a security manager and killed a defenceless young job seeker. 

“Before handing down the sentence, the Presiding Officer Judge Nelisa  Phiwokazi Mali, highlighted that the sentence must serve as a deterrent to society. She found no reasons justifying deviation from the prescribed ordained sentence.”

“The court ordered the sentence of life to run concurrently with the sentence imposed on other counts. Effectively the accused will serve life imprisonment. He was also declared unfit to possess a firearm.”

“The National Prosecuting Authority is satisfied with the sentence and hopes that the deceased’s family will find solace and closure by removing the accused from society,” said Nyuswa.

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