'Cruel murder by cowards'

The "Waterkloof Four" had " cruelly and cowardly" beaten a homeless man to death and assaulted another, magistrate Len Kotze said yesterday as he sent each of the men to jail for an effective 12 years.

The "Waterkloof Four" had " cruelly and cowardly" beaten a homeless man to death and assaulted another, magistrate Len Kotze said yesterday as he sent each of the men to jail for an effective 12 years.

The Pretoria high court had earlier ruled that life sentences could not be handed down to Christoff Becker, Frikkie du Preez, Gert van Schalkwyk and Reinach Tiedt because they had been minors and still at school when the crimes were committed in 2001.

Their victim had died slowly from loss of blood from a stab wound.

"It had to be a very cruel death," Kotze said.

It seemed to him they had not shown "an ounce of regret or humanity".

Kotze dismissed as "clearly false" claims that their actions had been those of "heroes" trying to help the police catch a housebreaker.

Though the man might have been a criminal, the youths did not call the police and instead ran away after beating him.

"Heroes don't act like that," Kotze said. - Sapa

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