UPDATE: Swift justice for Upper Tongaat farm murder

The family of 70-year-old Virathapushanam Govender who was killed during an Upper Tongaat farm attack, have breathed a sigh of relief after the men responsible for her death were sentenced to 40 years behind bars last week.

Michael Smangaliso Mayela (23), Nkosinathi Phendu Ngcobo (20) and Odwa Maningi Zida (21) who was a worker at the farm, were each sentenced by the Durban High Court to 25 years for murder, ten years each on two counts of robbery, five years for attempted murder and three years for possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition for the horrific farm attack that took place on April 19.

The incident that sent shockwaves through the community unfolded when the Spioenkop vegetable farmer and her husband Steve (76) were returning home from a market when the three men entered their premises of 40 years, forcing their way into the house.

Steve was assaulted before being tied up in the lounge.

His now late wife and mother of two children was gagged and tied up in her bedroom.

The men ransacked the house stealing money, cellphones, jewellery and household items, while the elderly couple were helpless.

Also read: Ballito Junction robbers shot dead by cops

Once they had left in the early hours of the next morning, Steve called for help and was heard by one of his employees.

Unfortunately, his wife had already died.

The three criminals who fled to the Eastern Cape shortly after the incident were arrested last month through the efforts of the provincial organised crime unit and the Umhlali task team.

Describing the sentencing as a relief, the elderly couple’s nephew Dan Reddy, thanked the police for leaving no stone unturned.

He said the criminals showed no remorse for their senseless crime.

Michael Smangaliso Mayela (23), Nkosinathi Phendu Ngcobo (20) and Odwa Maningi Zida (21), were sentenced to a total of 40 years.

“We are happy with the conviction because too often you see people walk free due to lack of evidence or their sentence does not compensate for the crime they committed.

“Two of the men smiled during the sentencing as if they thought it was a joke, so maybe they will take it seriously when they spend time in jail.

“We are happy that these men were caught and sentenced in a short space of time, so the pain in our family was not prolonged.

“The police kept us informed at all times and they did not leave any loopholes in this case. It is for this reason that the three men immediately pleaded guilty because there was nowhere left to hide. We are grateful for all the hard work that went into building an airtight case.”

Reddy said his uncle, Steve, who did not attend the sentencing, was slowly recovering from the trauma.

“He is surrounded by family who takes turns staying with him in his home. He is slowly starting to get back into a routine and has started farming again.”

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  AUTHOR
Erica Abrahams
Journalist

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