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Lengthy jail term for murderer who terrorised farming communities

A man whose reign of terror culminated in the murder of a couple at their home was sentenced to life terms by the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday.
A man whose reign of terror culminated in the murder of a couple at their home was sentenced to life terms by the high court in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Image: 123rf / Allan Swart

Jeffrey Thompson, who terrorised farming communities, was sentenced to two life terms, 58 years and six months imprisonment on Wednesday.

The high court in Cape Town found Thompson guilty of 15 charges, including two counts of murder.

He was also found guilty on counts of assault with intent to cause grievous bodily harm, housebreaking with intent to steal and theft, housebreaking with the intent to rob and robbery with aggravating circumstances.

He received life imprisonment for each of the murders. The court ordered that all the sentences run concurrently with the life sentences. It further declared him unfit to possess a firearm.

Thompson terrorised the farming communities of Robertson, McGregor and Bonnievale, about 200km from Cape Town, when he committed a spree of violent crimes from September 2017, until his arrest on December 16 2018.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Eric Ntabazalila said the crime spree started in September 2017 when he struck his girlfriend, Magdalene Willemien Simons, 31, in the face with an empty beer bottle.

“Her only sin was inquiring about a R200 note she left in the home earlier.”

Ntabazalila said after that incident, Thompson broke into several farmhouses, stealing items worth thousands of rands.

“He was so daring in his crimes, to an extent that at some properties he would break in while owners [were] inside, threaten them with an axe and took their belongings.”

On December 13 2018, Thompson killed Elsie Sophia Wilhelmina Steyn and her husband, Petrus Paul Steyn, at their home.

“He found the elderly couple asleep and, without provocation, he hacked them with an axe.

“Elsie, 71, and Petrus, 64, died because of axe wounds to the head. He took several valuable items from their house, packed them in their vehicle and drove off,” Ntabazalila said.

He said the vehicle was found abandoned two days later. Thompson was arrested four days later.

“The NPA welcomes the sentence, as it indicates the institution’s determination to fight gender-based violence using all its available resources and capacity, following the assault of Magdalene Willemien Simons.

“It also signifies the state’s intention to protect farming communities and ensure that appropriate sentences are handed down to those who terrorise those communities,” Ntabazalila said.

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