March 25 2009 at 06:45AM
Mpiya Richard Rammutla, 31, was on Tuesday sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering a young mother, Elize Havenga.
"You have robbed a man of his wife and a young girl of her mother - your actions were repulsive and despicable," the killer was told before being sent to jail for life.
Rammutla, a man who sang in his church choir, showed little emotion and stared at the ground in front of him while Pretoria High Court Judge, Lettie Malopa, told him how his actions had ruined many lives. She said the killing and the rape of Havenga was one of the worst things imaginable.
A wire was wound so tightly around the 28-year-old woman's neck that it sank into her flesh. She was so violently raped and sodomised that she suffered injuries to her private parts. He received an additional 25 years for the rape and the robbery of the mother.
'My daughter will have to grow up without a mother'
Havenga was killed following an argument with her husband in February last year. She stormed out of their Bronkhorstspruit home and later asked her brother to fetch her. She asked him to take her home, but to drop her on the road leading to their smallholding as she wanted to walk the rest of the way.
Rammutla this week testified that he walked behind her and that he "started to think wrong things." He explained how he grabbed the woman from behind and dragged her into nearby bushes, where he raped her. He said Havenga afterwards threatened that she would have him arrested and he tied a wire around her neck to silence her. He claimed he only wanted time to get away and he did not mean to kill her.
He conceded that he had wound it extremely tightly around her neck.
Before sentencing, Rammutla said he had remorse for what he had done. When shown the pictures of the dead woman in court, he agreed that his actions were reprehensible.
Havenga's husband, Jan Adriaan, testifying in aggravation of sentence, said he and his wife were only married for three years before she was killed. Their daughter was nine months old at the time and her grandparents are now taking care of her as he is furthering his studies.
"Our dream was to help the community, especially the poor and destitute." Havenga said they belonged to a Christian outreach programme to further this dream. Asked how he felt about what happened, he said: "My daughter will have to grow up without a mother and siblings of her own - My dreams were shattered overnight." He did not want to respond to a statement by the defence that the killer was sorry for what he had done and that he had asked for forgiveness.
The State, in asking for a harsh sentence, said apart from this being a gruesome killing, Havenga also suffered the ultimate humiliation by being brutally raped and sodomised and that Rammutla deserved to go to jail for the rest of his life.
The defence asked for mercy but conceded that Rammutla's actions were repulsive.
"You perpetrated the acts with mercilessness and violence - you were not brave enough to go to the police to tell them you were the person who killed her. Your deeds were revolting, despicable and brutal," the judge told him. She said the little girl would grow up without ever experiencing the love of a mother.
She said the Havenga couple were still virtually in the honeymoon stage of their marriage when she was killed. "You have robbed the community of someone who wanted to help the poor. There is an outcry from the community over crimes such as rape and murder which is taking place all over the country.
"It is unfortunate that it is mostly young people like you who terrorise the community. The community should look up to young people like you for future leaders, but it is young people like you who murder, kill and rob," the judge said.
Havenga's husband afterwards said he was happy that justice had prevailed. Her mother, Annalie van Jaarsveld, said: "My child is in heaven. Only another parent will understand what I'm going through." She said her daughter loved people and was close to her family.
This article was originally published on page 3 of Pretoria News on March 25, 2009