Life sentences for Ottosdal farm murder

Two men have been sentenced to life in jail for shooting a Mpumalanga farmer four times before dragging him behind his bakkie while he was still alive.

Thabo Matlhoko and Shadrack Thapelo Smith were sentenced in the Mahikeng High Court on Wednesday for the murder of Andre van der Merwe, 49, on April 30, 2011.

Judge S Gura said in his ruling that the attack was cruel and that the murderers were, for that reason, being heavily punished.

Both men received an additional 20 years on other charges, including robbery.

Gura found that the murderers had carefully planned their attack, which took place in the afternoon at Van der Merwe's farm, about nine kilometres outside Ottosdal.

"Oom Andre had an open heart and he was good to everyone, black and white. We hope and believe he was not conscious when he was dragged behind the bakkie," said Van der Merwe's friend Frans Hugo, who discovered the body after the murder.

The court heard that Van der Merwe was shot twice in the back, behind the left ear and in the cheek. Wire was tied around his feet and he was dragged behind his bakkie for 1.5km.

His assailants later left with his bakkie, having stolen food, cellphones, alcohol, clothes, shoes and money from the farmhouse.

Police arrested them the next day.

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