April 25 2009 at 04:19PM
Justin Browne was slaughtered like an animal - a Johannesburg judge ruled when he found three men guilty of slitting his throat in front of his children, then aged seven and three.
Acting Judge Gerhardus Hattingh also found that the three killers; Kenneth Kaman Mukhari, 34, alias Mario dos Santos, Jose Aurelio, 33, alias Domingo Mathebula and Sidumo Mabaso, 33, all from Mozambique, acted with common purpose to kill Browne.
The three were also found guilty of robbing the Browne family in their house in Northwold, Randburg, on August 26 2007.
Mukhari who was the mastermind of the robberies in affluent areas around Randburg, was also found guilty on three counts of housebreaking and theft and two counts of robbery with aggravating circumstances as well as the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition.
'He won't be here to watch me grow up'
One of his victims was pierced in the lung during an attack; two others, Shaleen and Allan Strydom, were in the gallery to hear Friday's verdict.
Aurelio was also found guilty of housebreaking and theft, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition as well as the murder of his brother-in-law, Reuben Mathebula, who died after being shot four times.
After their conviction, the three appealed to Judge Hattingh to be lenient when passing sentence, saying they were in their early 30s, married with minor children living in Mozambique.
The appeal for clemency outraged Justin's wife, Geordie, during her testimony in aggravation of sentence. She also told the court that like the killers, her husband would have turned 33 on Wednesday.
Geordie Browne struggled to hold back tears when she told the court that her children lit a candle on Wednesday and sang Happy Birthday for their father.
She offered the judge messages from her children describing their affection for her husband.
Daniella, who witnessed her father bleed to death, wrote: "He won't be able to walk me down aisle when I get married or be there to celebrate my 21st birthday or Christmas. I love you so much Daddy and I miss you, good night, Daddy."
Robin, who was three at the time, said: "I miss Daddy lots because he died. I miss playing rally and cards, and throwing the ball to me in Rugby. I miss him when he bathed me and swam with me.
"He won't be here to watch me grow up. But I know he loves us and protects us."
Justin's stepson, Tristan, wrote: "I miss my dad because he and I will not be able to throw the ball to each other or play PlayStation together."
The three accused will be sentenced on Thursday.
This article was originally published on page 4 of Pretoria News on April 25, 2009