Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Killers of homeless man ‘saw vagrants as threats’

Three men who, as teenagers, beat to death a homeless man sleeping on church premises two years ago, saw vagrants as a threat to their neighbourhood, the Bellville Regional Court heard on Tuesday.

This was according to Pretoria criminologist Dr Irma Labuschagne, who testified on behalf of the men who are to be sentenced on a charge of culpable homicide.

Before magistrate Johann Swanepoel are Ruan Pieter Maritz, now 21, and his friends Dewald Herman Smith and Benjamin Garth Montague-Fryer, now both 21.

They are to be sentenced for beating to death homeless bricklayer Johan Thomas as he lay sleeping with his common-law wife, Rosie Plaatjies, at the Dutch Reformed Church in Ridgeworth.

Labuschagne handed to the court a 51-page report, but added: ”I did not complete this report to make an excuse for these three young men, or to get them a lenient sentence.”

Of utmost importance for the court to consider was the fact that the attack happened during their adolescence, she said.

She said none of the three accused had any history of liquor or drug abuse. All three had had good, balanced adolescence and came from good families.

The attack happened after the three had been partying together on a Friday night, drinking brandy and wine and discussing how they could rid their neighbourhood of vagrants.

Labuschagne told the court the three accused considered homeless people a nuisance group that threatened security and did not belong there.

She told the court that the term ”bergies” (a derogatory term used mainly for homeless people in Cape Town) was unknown in Gauteng and when she learnt that the three men were charged with killing a bergie, she phoned to ask them what a bergie was.

She told the court: ”In their replies, not one of them referred to race. They spoke of homeless people who dug into refuse bins, begged and generally made a nuisance of themselves.”

The hearing was postponed to December 11. — Sapa

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

The South African Bone Marrow Registry celebrates 30 years of...

‘It’s not drilling into bones!’: Misconceptions keep donors away, says SABMR, but a match outside of a patient’s family is a needle in a haystack

R500-million Covid-19 Gauteng hospital contract was irregularly awarded — SIU

The bank accounts of Pro Service Consulting and Thenga Holdings have been frozen

More top stories

With its industrial base decimated, SA’s economy needs real change...

Speaking at a book launch on Tuesday, the finance minister said a focus on manufacturing is critical to stem the country’s deepening unemployment crisis

Defence team cagey about Zuma’s health after state advised he...

The former president was absent from court, but his counsel argued that health matters be left aside, so as to hear his case for the removal of Billy Downer

The South African Bone Marrow Registry celebrates 30 years of...

‘It’s not drilling into bones!’: Misconceptions keep donors away, says SABMR, but a match outside of a patient’s family is a needle in a haystack

New clean fuel standards could be the end of refineries...

In the absence of mechanisms to recoup investment into cleaner fuels, refineries may be faced with tough decisions
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×