Life for Alexandria farmer’s attackers

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Agri Eastern Cape welcomed the lengthy sentences handed down to Alexandria farmer Riaan Scheepers’s attackers in the High Court in Makhanda (Grahamstown) Friday 2 November, and congratulated the SAPS for their investigative work in the case.

Bulelani Bafo Zozi (21) and Siphamandla Petse (24) entered Scheepers’s home on 25 November 2017 and severely assaulted him. They took a firearm and his bakkie before fleeing the scene. On 19 December, Scheepers succumbed to his injuries and passed away.

Today Judge Clive Plasket handed down the following to each of the accused:

Count 1- House burglary with intent to rob and robbery – 5 years

Count 2- Robbery with aggravating circumstances – 15 years

Count 3 -Murder – Life Imprisonment

Count 4- Illegal possession of Firearm – 5 years, and

Count 5 – Illegal possession of Ammunition – 2 years.

The sentences will run concurrently. Petse was a first-time offender and Zozi had a prior rape conviction.

Judgment came more than 11 months after the news of the brutal attack which rocked the farming community.

Judge Plasket that in his view the attack was extremely violent, and both accused had participated in the attack. The robbery and attack had been well planned. The house had been held under observation until the opportunity arose to commit the crime.

The victim had been attacked in the sanctity of his home and given his age and disability from an accident a number of years ago, would have had little chance of escaping from his attackers.

Judge Plasket said that although both the accused pleaded guilty to four of the counts, this was viewed as an open and shut case and this couldn’t be seen as a factor in mitigation. Neither of the accused had shown any serious remorse for their actions.

He also also reiterated evidence led that the deceased had been both a mother and father to his children following the death of his wife a number of years ago.

He had also been a pillar of the community, serving as the chairperson of the local old age home, treasurer of the local Farmers Association and serving on the Church Council. The death of the deceased had had a profound effect on his family, community and employees, the Judge said.

The accused have made an application for leave to appeal the life sentence.

Judge Plasket has ruled that in his opinion another court will not reach a different conclusion and that their application has no prospect of success. As such, leave to appeal the life sentence for murder was dismissed.

Agri Eastern Cape Chairperson for Rural Safety, Alfonso van Niekerk said justice has been served, and there was “finally closure for the family”.

Brent McNamara, Chairperson of the Alexandria Agriculture Association, and Agri EC Operations Manager said Agri Eastern Cape would continue to engage with police to improve Rural Safety Strategy in farming and rural areas.

“Agri Eastern Cape would like to congratulate the Port Alfred police cluster commander, Brigadier Morgan Govender, Captain Mali Govender, SAPS lead Detective Captain Leon Els who has since retired, Seargant Bakkes and Constable Gxogxo who took over the investigation, and the rest of the SAPS detective unit members and the NPA team, led by Advocate Obermeyer, for their sterling detective work, and perseverance to bring these perpetrators to justice.” Van Niekerk said.

Eastern Cape Police Commissioner Lieutenant-General Liziwe Ntshinga said today, “I thank the community and all who have assisted in tracing the perpetrators of this crime. The team of investigators received information from several persons which was vigorously followed up.

“The sentence yielded today is resultant from the assistance of the community, the strong relationship between the National Prosecution and the investigation team.”

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