Bonnievale labourers will serve life for farm owner’s killing

Four Bonnievale murderers have been sentenced to life time imprisonment after their recent convictions.

Four Bonnievale murderers have been sentenced to life time imprisonment after their recent convictions.

Published Oct 27, 2023


Four Bonnievale murderers have been sentenced to life time imprisonment after their recent convictions.

The sentences have been hailed by Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer, who said the 2019 murder of farmer Tool Wessels and the attempted murder of his now widow was still devastating.

“The guilty verdict and lengthy sentences imposed by Judge Dereck Wille of the Circuit High Court sends a strong message that attacks on our rural communities will never be tolerated. I am still however devastated by this loss of life and my heart still hurts for Tool, his family and loved ones. An attack on anyone in our agricultural sector is an attack on our rural economy,” said Meyer.

Ntabanyane Ntali, Thabiso Ramollo, Moeketsi Hlaudi and Keketso Matsabisa were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder, 10 years for attempted murder, 15 years for robbery with aggravating circumstances, and five years for the unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition.

According to the judgment, the four had forced Wessels and his wife into submission on May 13, 2019, assaulted and killed Wessels by shooting him and then with force took his property from his lawful possession.

The men were seasonal workers, working for Wessels.

“The accused did not report for work on that fateful day and instead hatched and planned their attack upon the deceased and his wife. The accused killed the man, assaulted his wife, and robbed them of their personal belongings, cash, firearms, and ammunition. The accused pleaded not guilty to all the charges as preferred against them by the prosecution and reserved their right to remain silent. The accused offered no plea explanations, although they all tendered written formal admissions concerning certain issues and some material considering the investigation that followed against them,” said Judge Wille in his judgment.

According to details which emerged during the trial, a police officer testified that he was alerted to the crime after the wife had fled to a nearby farm following the attack.

The wife had told the court they had been accosted in their home by a group of men in balaclavas. The incident happened when she was taking a bath.

“She covered herself with a bath towel and was taken into the kitchen with her husband by the unknown assailants. They were both tied up by their assailants. These unknown assailants kept asking for money. She and her late husband were severely beaten and assaulted by these assailants. A kettle of water was brought to the boil, and these assailants poured it over their heads to torture them further,” Wille noted in his conviction judgment.

The assailants had left the woman in the home when she lost consciousness due to the assault but when she regained consciousness, she realised the assailants and her husband were no longer in the house.

The husband had been shot and murdered at a secluded location.

Judge Wille said: “The testimony by all the accused was of a very poor quality. They were all extremely evasive and argumentative witnesses and made an extremely bad impression when they testified. They were not even prepared to admit or concede common cause facts. I say this because it became evident that they had all hatched a plan.

They all were of the view that they could not be identified because they were wearing balaclavas when they attacked the deceased and his wife.”

Cape Times