April 13 2007 at 07:31PM
Five men were jailed for life on Friday for the murder of Greytown farmer David Varty, shot dead in March 2003 when he fought a gang who assaulted, tied up and robbed his father and two of their staff.
One of the men who attacked the Vartys, Lungiseni Mchunu, was on bail at the time despite being accused of the murder and aggravated robbery of Pietermaritzburg liquor merchant De Wet Joubert.
He was also accused of the murder of Sandile Jili, a member of the robber gang who was shot dead during the attack on Joubert's business.
Mchunu was given two life sentences for the murder of Joubert and Jili in 2005 and two more on Friday for the murder of David Varty and the aggravated robbery of David, 39, his father Barry and staff members Bhatomu Gasa and Busisiwe Lembethe.
Judge Jan Combrink said that Mchunu's conduct in taking part in the Varty robbery and murder made a mockery of the trust courts showed when releasing accused on bail.
The court had released him trusting that he would stand trial (for the Joubert murder) yet he took part in the Varty attack.
"Had you not been granted bail (for the Joubert murder and robbery) you would not have taken part in the Varty robbery and murder."
He ordered that these remarks be sent to the magistrate who released Mchunu on bail. Combrink also imposed a life sentence for the Varty robbery.
He ordered that the men serve at least 25 years before they are released on parole. The other men are Andreas Simelane, 39, Thembinkosi Dlomo, 29, Thandukwazi Nyembe, 48, all of Pietermaritzburg, and Sphamandla Sibiya, 38, of Nkandla.
Combrink said that notwithstanding the fact that he wanted Mchunu (who now has been given four life sentences) should never see the outside of a prison again, he would be free in 25 years. "That is the unfortunate result of bureaucratic decision-making in the administration of justice. The correctional services authorities in their wisdom, or lack of it, have decided that he could apply for parole after serving a period."
The law is that all sentences are served concurrently with a life sentence.
He said that for the murder of Jili, the law was that where a person takes part in an armed robbery (such as Mchunu) and subjectively foresees resistance and possible injury or death but recklessly proceeds with the robbery and someone is killed as Jili was (a co-robber of Mchunu) then he (Mchunu) was guilty of Jili's murder.
Mchunu got a life sentence for Jili's murder at the same time as getting life for Joubert's murder.
The judge said: "You reconnoitred the farm and invaded it gain, spending the whole night on the farm, invading the Varty house early in the morning. This conduct shows your obdurate tenacity to rob. The way in which you treated Lembethe and Gasa and the attack upon Barry Varty indicate a callousness that can never be pardoned. There was no need for your bullying attack on them."
Combrink said: "In a country as beset with violent crime as ours no politician has the right to tell me that crime is diminishing. Even as I speak someone somewhere is being robbed.
"Farm attacks are most dastardly. The victims generally live in isolation and are elderly. There is undoubted cowardice in attacking elderly people."
After sentence was passed Barry Varty said: "Bring back the rope. Jail is not adequate. There is no forgiveness on my part. David was really getting going on the farm".
Barry's wife Erica said: "Nothing can bring back our son." - Sapa