Man gets life for killing his friends
LABELLING a former barman’s actions ”cold blooded and callous”, a Durban High Court judge sentenced him to life imprisonment for the double murder and robbery of two friends, who were Morningside flatmates.
Twenty-four-year-old Gordon van Niekerk had pleaded guilty to the double murder of Daniel Robbertze and Ruth Annicke Thofte at their Morningside flat in May last year.
He was sentenced to life for two counts of murder, 15 years for robbery, eight years for housebreaking, three years for unlawful possession of a firearm and 18 months for unlawful possession of ammunition. All sentences are to run concurrently.
In his statement Van Niekerk said that on May 26, 2008, he went to Robbertze’s flat and they drank wine.
Thofte, Robbertze’s flatmate, sat with them in the living room. Later Thofte went to bed, and he and Robbertze went into the bedroom.
“As we were drinking we were also mixing tranquilliser tablets with the wine to get drunk fast,” he said. When Robbertze fell asleep, Van Niekerk saw an “opportunity” to rob him.
Items that were stolen included binoculars, a laptop and a digital camera. Van Niekerk said when Robbertze began to wake up, he “panicked, pointed the firearm at him and fired one shot”.
Thinking Thofte had heard the gunshot, he went into her bedroom, where he found her asleep. “When I walked in I pointed a gun at her and fired two shots at her.”
Social worker Dombi Khwela of the Department of Social Development was called in to testify after examining Van Niekerk. She said Van Niekerk was not forthcoming with information on his background, and she had to obtain information from his relatives.
She said Van Niekerk did display remorse for his actions.
A key witness for the state, Ashley Grey, said he met Van Niekerk through a friend, and later offered him a room in his flat to rent because the young man needed a place to stay.
Van Niekerk came to his new home on the Thursday be- fore the murders and on the following Tuesday he was arrested, said Grey.
“He brought in a small bag of belongings, but made a diary entry of things he was going to bring such as a laptop and digital camera,” he said.
Prosecutor Ria Mina said what made the crime worse was that Van Niekerk knew Robbertze and Thofte.
She also referred to the list of items Van Niekerk made in his diary and said these items were coincidentally the same stolen from Robbertze and Thofte’s flat.
Judge Sharmaine Balton said the report painted no picture of Van Niekerk living a disadvantaged life, and said his upbringing was much better than other offenders who appeared in court.