May 14 2009 at 05:05PM
Two Kleinmond men have been sentenced to 75 years behind bars after pleading guilty to the August 2008 murder of elderly relatives of Cape Town model Minki van der Westhuizen.
However the men, Lindikhaya Sigidi and Siyabonga Cosa, will only serve an effective 30 years after the Cape High Court ordered that some of the sentences be served concurrently.
Acting Deputy Judge President Dennis van Reenen sentenced the men after they entered into a plea bargain admitting to the murders.
They appeared nervous and stared at their feet as the court asked them to confirm the plea agreement.
Schalk van der Westhuizen, 78, and his wife Marie were killed shortly after hosting a party to celebrate her 71st birthday.
Mrs Van der Westhuizen had been saying goodbye to the last guests and, when she went back into the house, she witnessed the men bludgeoning her husband with a hammer.
They then attacked her before fleeing with several valuables, including two cellphones, a DVD player, jewellery, a laptop computer, camera, video camera and an MP3 player.
A neighbour discovered their bodies next morning. A post-mortem showed they had died from blows to the head.
Photographs of the bodies showed the extent of the couple's injuries.
During the investigation, Sigidi's fingerprints were found at the scene.
The police also found the stolen items in the possession of both men.
In the plea and sentence agreement with the State, the men admitted that they had broken into the Van der Westhuizens' home and attacked the elderly man with a hammer to subdue him.
They said that neither the man nor his wife offered any resistance.
In negotiating the plea agreement, the parties took into account that the couple were elderly and that their families were traumatised by the murders.
However, the mitigating factors taken into account included that both men were first offenders.
Sigidi was 22 at the time and Cosa was 23.
Before sentencing the men, Judge Van Reenen said he was satisfied that the agreed sentences were just and fair.
He commended the police for their investigation of the murders and also thanked the men's advocate, Patrick Loots, for continuing to represent them even though he had left the Legal Aid Board to practise privately.
The men were each sentenced to 35 years, of which five years were suspended, for each of the murders.
They were also sentenced to 15 years for housebreaking.
The sentence for the housebreaking conviction and one of the murder sentences was ordered to run concurrently with the remaining murder sentence.
This article was originally published on page 8 of Cape Argus on May 14, 2009