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The Limpopo high court on Friday sentenced former South African National Defence Force soldier Meshack Kharivhe to life for murdering his family.
He was sentenced to four terms of life imprisonment after being found guilty of Kharivhe killing his wife, Winisani Kharivhe, 27, children Zwonaka, 9, Thendo, 3, and nine-month-old baby Maduvha with a spade and digging fork at Mukula-Sathane outside Thohoyandou in April last year.
After the murders, he went to the police station to confess.
When the trial started Kharivhe, 36, pleaded guilty to killing his three children but denied killing his wife.
Despite his confessions, Kharivhe told the court: "I don't want to ask for forgiveness."
Kharivhe told the court that his children did not do anything wrong and therefore they did not deserve to be killed.
He never gave reasons for killing his wife.
State prosecutor Bathuel Manyuha said Kharivhe should be found guilty because he failed to give satisfactory evidence why he killed his family.
Before Judge Godfrey Hetisani delivered the judgment, he described photographs that were handed in as exhibits as shocking and disturbing.
"If you see the pictures in this album, you will not even eat your supper. These people were killed brutally.
"The court has a difficult duty to protect those who were left behind," Hetisani said.
The judge said he was disturbed by the way Maduvha was killed. Her head was chopped and her brains were found scattered on the floor.
When Hetisani passed the four life sentences, which will run concurrently, he said: "I know very well it will not bring back life for the children so they can play at Mukula.
"The court has to protect those who remain behind."
Kharivhe will have to spend 20 years in jail before he can apply for parole.