The Herald (South Africa)
Kirkwood woman’s killer guilty
Justice has been served, says relieved family
THERE were tears of both relief and despair in a Port Elizabeth court yesterday when farm worker Andrew Damons was found guilty of brutally murdering Kirkwood businesswoman Rene Slater, 52, in February 2010.
Slater’s two daughters – Desiré Dorfling and Luzette Conradie – cried tears of relief and satisfaction when Acting Judge Shariefa Jacobs handed down the verdict in the High Court.
But Damons’s parents, especially his mother, Desire, shed tears of sadness.
Damons, 22, of Uitenhage, was found guilty on charges of murder, robbery with aggravating circumstances and kidnapping following the murder on February 15 2010.
Slater’s body was found the following day in a shallow grave covered with sand and thorn bushes three kilometres from her husband Desmond’s farm. She had died as a result of severe cranial cerebral injuries due to blunt force.
“We have been waiting for this moment for the past four years. We are very relieved to know that it is over,” Dorfling said.
Conradie said the murder had had a devastating effect.
“Our grandfather died the following month and six months after our mother was murdered our father died of a heart attack.
“He was the healthiest person I knew but he took my mother’s loss very badly and I know he died as a result of the stress.
“The pain will never go away but at least now we know that justice has been served and the person responsible will pay for what he has done,” Conradie said.
Dorfling said the family had decided to sell the farm because of their father and grandfather’s deaths, leading to all the farmworkers losing their jobs.
“We just did not feel safe there anymore,” Dorfling said.
“There were too many bad memories and too much sadness, so we had to sell.
“My father allowed all the farmworkers and their families to live there so they lost their jobs and their homes.
“I wish the killer could understand how many people suffered because of what he did,” Dorfling said.
Conradie said Damons had failed to show any remorse.
“His parents came to us now and told us that they are sorry. I think his mother had decided to believe him up until he was found guilty. No mother wants to believe that her child can be capable of this,” she said.
Conradie said it had been difficult attending court and listening to the horrific details of their mother’s murder.
Damons was arrested shortly after he sold the victim’s cellphone to a man in Kuyga in Port Elizabeth. During crossexamination he testified that he bought the cellphone from an unidentified man in a bar.
“It is highly improbable that this person would sell the cellphone to the accused who at that stage was a suspect in this murder case,” Jacobs said.
She rejected Damons’s version as false “based on numerous contradictions”.
“Initially he said he was told that morning that the deceased was murdered but later backtracked when he was told that at that stage she was still missing. He then also contradicted himself on his knowledge of the area,” Jacobs said.
Damons had also testified that he had handed over the clothes he was wearing on the day to the police.
But when confronted with the fact that he had handed over other clothing and not the clothing he was wearing, he said he could not remember what he had handed over.
Sentencing was postponed until February 28.