The Mercury

Gay killer was like an abused wife, court told

- Kamini Padayachee

CONVICTED killer Mario Tsawe could be equated to an abused wife, his lawyer argued in the Durban High Court yesterday. The argument, which raised eyebrows in court, was made by attorney Vijay Sivakumoor in mitigation of sentence.

On Tuesday, Tsawe pleaded guilty to murdering his former lover, Dennis Roberts, 75, and Roberts’s sister, Crystal Roberts, 71. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of robbery with aggravatin­g circumstan­ces.

Acting Judge Karthy Govender is expected to sentence Tsawe on Monday.

The siblings were strangled, and Crystal was also stabbed in the neck.

In his plea, Tsawe said he had had a relationsh­ip with Roberts and had lived with him and Crystal at their Glen Hills home. Later, because of conflict in the home, Roberts had rented a South Beach flat with Tsawe.

However, their relationsh­ip soured, said Tsawe, because the older man constantly wanted sex and would threaten to withhold groceries and rent if he did not get what he wanted.

He said after the relationsh­ip ended, Roberts came to the flat, assaulted him and removed furniture. He also cancelled the lease and refused to take Tsawe’s calls, leaving him feeling “abandoned and abused”.

Posing on an internet site as a man named “Ernest”, Tsawe lured Roberts to a hotel in order to rob him with the assistance of a man named Sthe Ximba. After they strangled Roberts, Ximba took R300 cash the dead man had been carrying, while Tsawe took his car.

The next day, both men went to Roberts’s Glen Hills home, where they strangled Crystal and took Roberts’s laptop and cellphone, which Tsawe believed would lead the police to him.

Yesterday, Sivakumoor argued that the murders had not been premeditat­ed, as both had been as a result of “decisions (made) at the scene”. He added that Tsawe had perceived himself as the “wife”, with Roberts being his “husband”, in their relationsh­ip.

“The deceased paid all the bills, demanded sex from him and held him hostage in that regard. Therefore, the accused was in a frail state of mind, which could be compared to abused wife syndrome.”

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