Nelspruit: The two brothers, Nkosinathi Yika (28) and Themba Yika (38) received a hefty sentence for the murder of Ms Sue Howarth (65) and the attempted murder of her husband who was 68 years old at the time, a horrific incident which occurred on 18 February 2017 in Dullstroom near Belfast.

The court heard that on that fateful day a group of three men armed with firearms stormed into a certain house in Dullstroom where they held two pensioners, husband and wife hostage thereby robbing them of their personal belonging including their mobile phones. During the hostage drama, the female victim was shot by the suspects and sustained some injuries whilst they tied the husband as well as severely assaulted him with a torch. The suspects are said to have then demanded pin codes for the victims’ bank cards.

Both victims are said have been dragged by their assailants into a bakkie, Nissan Hardbody belonging to the victims. The husband was then shot by the suspect as well before they were abandoned with their injuries next to the road.

The victims were later assisted by a concerned citizen who found them and rushed them to hospital where the wife unfortunately succumbed.

Police at Dullstroom were informed by the paramedics about the incident whereby a murder and robbery case was opened. The team of investigators began their investigation where they gathered some information and worked tirelessly with the purpose of finding the perpetrators.

On 25 February 2017 police made a breakthrough in their probe when the three suspects appeared in the Belfast Magistrate’s Court for a different case of stock theft. Police were amazed to find the three men in possession of a cell phone that was stolen during the robbery. The astute members immediately arrested the trio and charged them for possession of suspected stolen property. In the tour of the investigation, police managed to trace the stolen bakkie as well as the camera in Middelburg, all these items were also forcefully taken during the said robbery. The three were later linked to the robbery of the pensioners where the wife was sadly murdered whilst the husband was lucky to be alive after being shot and sustained some serious injuries.

During the course of the trial, one of the accused, Lucas Makua pleaded guilty thereafter passed away in 2021 after confessing that the three indeed carried out the robbery and murder as well as the attempted murder. The state built their case against the two remaining accused persons and the court took into consideration the guilty plea by the deceased man. The evidence was overwhelming hence the two men were convicted on 06 March 2022 then sentenced by the Mpumalanga Division of the High Court which was sitting in Breyton on 30 June 2022.

For House breaking, both were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment each and for discharging a firearm in public they were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment. On the count of murder, both were sentenced to 20 years imprisonment meanwhile for attempted murder, the two were sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. The two were also sentenced to 5 years for theft. For kidnapping of each victim, the two accused were sentenced to 5 years imprisonment per victim.

Meanwhile for Themba Yika an additional sentence with regard to the firearm was imposed upon him. He was slapped with 5 years for possession of unlicensed firearm and 3 years for possession of unlicensed ammunition.

The Provincial Commissioner of the SAPS in Mpumalanga, Lieutenant General Semakaleng Daphney Manamela has commended the exceptional work done by the detective team, the prosecution team, and the judiciary. “We welcome the sentence handed down by the court to the accused who unshamefully took advantage of the pensioners, robbing them of their belongings as well as murdering one and severely injuring the other. We hope that that sentence will deter others from committing crime” said the General.

Source: South African Police Service

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