December 11 2007 at 12:22PM
The widow of murdered Valhalla liquor store manager Jaco van Staden said she hated her husband's killers, but prayed every day for God to help her forgive them.
Caren van Staden took the stand in the Pretoria High Court on Monday in aggravation of sentence of the two men who gunned down her husband in the liquor store during a robbery more than three years ago, and their co-offender, who was convicted as their accomplice.
Acting Judge Natvarial Ranchod convicted Michael Lebogo and Jeffrey Banda on a charge of murder and robbery with aggravating circumstances. The third accused, Thabo Diphoko, who drove the getaway car, was convicted as an accomplice to the murder and robbery.
Van Staden testified that she was six months pregnant when her husband was killed in August 2004. The couple also has two young children. She said that since his death she had had to go out and work. He did not have any policies or make financial provision for the family.
'He was a wonderful person and life is very difficult without him'
Van Staden said his death had affected her children severely. They kept asking when he was coming home. When she told them he was shot and killed, they wanted to know why.
"He was a wonderful person and life is very difficult without him," she said. She looked her husband's killers in the eye and told them she hoped God would help her to forgive them one day.
The robbers fled out of the liquor store without any money.
The State has called for a life sentence for Lebogo and Banda and a lengthy jail term for Diphoko.
The trio will be sentenced on Thursday.
This article was originally published on page 2 of Pretoria News on December 11, 2007