The Mercury

Dur­ban bar­man gets life in jail for mur­der­ing woman and flat­mate

- KAMINI PA­DAY­ACHEE

A DUR­BAN High Court judge yes­ter­day sen­tenced bar­man Gor­don van Niek­erk to life im­pris­on­ment for the mur­ders of Nor­we­gian na­tional An­nicke Thofte and her flat­mate Danie Rob­bertze last year.

Van Niek­erk had pre­vi­ously pleaded guilty to two charges of mur­der, rob­bery, house­break­ing and un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a firearm and am­mu­ni­tion last year.

In his plea, Van Niek­erk, 23, said he had been at the 8th Av­enue, Morn­ing­side, flat shared by Rob­bertze and Thofte on May 26 last year. Both had fallen asleep and he had seen this as an op­por­tu­nity to rob them “in or­der to raise money to start a new life”. He said Rob­bertze had wo­ken up and he had shot and stabbed him.

He had pan­icked and shot and stabbed Thofte, be­fore steal­ing var­i­ous items from the flat, in­clud­ing a lap­top, dig­i­tal cam­era and CDs, and flee­ing in Thofte’s car.

Yes­ter­day, Van Niek­erk held his head in his hands when Judge Sharmaine Bal­ton sen­tenced him to life for each count of mur­der, 15 years for the rob­bery, eight years for the house­break­ing, three years for the un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of a firearm and 18 months for the un­law­ful pos­ses­sion of am­mu­ni­tion. All the sen­tences will run con­cur­rently with the life sen­tences.

Speak­ing in mit­i­ga­tion of sen­tence yes­ter­day, so­cial worker Dombi Kwela tes­ti­fied that Van Niek­erk had shown re­morse for his ac­tions.

In ag­gra­va­tion of sen­tence, state ad­vo­cate Rea Mina said that the mur­ders had been pre­med­i­tated.

“The worst part is that th­ese were his friends,” said Mina.

Hand­ing down judg­ment, Judge Bal­ton said the mur­ders had been “bru­tal and cal­lous”.

The judge also dis­missed an ap­pli­ca­tion for leave to ap­peal against the sen­tence.

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